The Hollywood writers' strike ended on September 26th, 2023, with an agreement to manage the disruption caused by automation – a framework that likely will be repeated in other workplaces.

According to the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the parties have established the following guidelines for projects subject to their agreement:

  • AI can't write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material cannot be used to undermine a writer's credit.
  • A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can't require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when writing.
  • Companies must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.
  • The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers' material to train AI is prohibited by their collective bargaining agreement or other law.

This is only the latest example of unions responding to AI in the workplace, and it certainly will not be the last.

In 2018, hospitality workers in Las Vegas went on strike in part due to the threat that automation posed to their jobs. The parties ultimately reached an agreement that included safeguards for workers, including up to six months' advanced notification of new technology implementation that could lead to layoffs and/or reduction of hours, mandatory free retraining to use new technology for current jobs, and access to free training for new jobs created due to automation. With that contract expiring, and automation booming in the Las Vegas hospitality industry, hospitality workers have just voted to go on strike in part to secure more protections against a changing workplace.

Employers facing workplace friction due to introduction of automation in their own workplace should consider the solutions reached in these cases. And with automation becoming more omnipresent, with calls to regulate artificial intelligence increasing, and with President Biden becoming the first sitting president to join a picket line, we may soon see these concepts shift from labor negotiations to state or federal regulations.

Displacement of workers due to automation is just one of the ways artificial intelligence is affecting the workplace, along with issues we have highlighted around automation in hiring and employees' use of generative AI. Attorneys on our employment and artificial intelligence teams are always available to provide guidance on these issues.