Collective Bargaining and Digitalization: A Global Survey of Union Use of Collective Bargaining to Increase Worker Control over Digitalization
A special issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy (Vol. 34, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022) featured essays on the topic of the Future of Work which were solicited by the American Federation of Teachers for a conference on the subject it jointly hosted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Shanker Institute. In the eighth of these essays, guest authors Eckhard Voss and Daniel Bertossa discuss the future of collective bargaining in the face of increasing digitalization.
In “Collective Bargaining and Digitalization: A Global Survey of Union Use of Collective Bargaining to Increase Worker Control over Digitalization,” WMP consultant Eckhard Voss and PSI expert Daniel Bertossa discuss what the future of collective bargaining looks like in the face of increasing levels of digitalization. Through an in-depth evaluation of seven key areas affected by digitalization, the authors discuss the deficits in collective bargaining, before approaching the herculean task of confronting them.
This article outlines and collates exemplary clauses from collective bargaining agreements and similar sources, such as guidelines for union negotiators on digitalization in public and private services. Based on the evaluation of agreements and single clauses and their mapping along seven key dimensions of workers’ rights and protection in regard to digital technology in the workplace, the research shows that collective bargaining provides clear added value not only in the absence of legal provisions but also by complementing and tailoring existing regulations to sectoral and workplace specificities, new emerging risks and other challenges. The research that will feed into an online database on the issue by PSI shows that unions are increasingly aware of the need to negotiate new rights for the digital work environment, and that certain gaps exist in regard to new emerging challenges and topics, for example, in fields such as workers’ rights over digital tools and algorithms or equal opportunities.