Work and Workers of the Future: A Transatlantic Conference

Join us on October 3rd, 2019! Information and Registration here


The transformation of our economies through data and automation is in full-swing. Workers, unions, businesses, and policy-makers are grappling with fundamental questions about what this transformation will mean for work in the future. While innovation and new business models have enjoyed much discussion and examination, workers and unions have not featured prominently in the debates on the transformation of our economies and the transformation of work. 

Our Transatlantic conference on "Work and Workers of the Future" will shift the attention to public policy and the co-creators of economic value: workers. The conference aims to fill the gap in these urgent debates. 

Register here 


Program Agenda

Venue:             AFL-CIO / George Meany Room / 815 16th Street NW


9:30 am           Opening Remarks by Conference Organizers                       

Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO 

Knut Dethlefsen, Friedrich Ebert Foundation


9:45-10:15 am              Keynote I: The German Labor Movement in the Age of Industry 4.0

                        Reiner Hoffmann, President, German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)

10:15-10:45 am            Keynote II: Results from the AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions

                         Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO


10:45-11:00 am            Coffee Break


11:00 am- 12:30 pm      Panel I:  Shaping Innovation through Public Policy and Collective Bargaining

Unions in the United States and Germany have been addressing automation and technological change in the workplace for decades. Public investment in innovation offers opportunities to shape innovation for the benefit of society, and expected increases in funding for artificial intelligence create opportunities for unions and other civil society groups to steer technological progress. What lessons have unions learned from bargaining and co-determination on decisions involving technology? How might unions and other civil society organizations help steer technological advances in the future?


Lee Branstetter, Carnegie Mellon University

Thorben Albrecht, ILO Commissioner

Anna Fendley, USW

Ed Wytkind, UNITE HERE


Wilma B. Liebman, New York University School of Law and former NLRB Chairwoman


12:30-2:00 pm       Lunch Break


2:00-2:30 pm         Plenary Speech

                          Sigmar Gabriel, Member of the German Parliament and Chairman Atlantik-Brücke e.V.


2:30-4:00 pm         Panel II:  Taking on Data and the Power of Big Tech

The Big Five tech companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft), several of which did not even exist 20 years ago, wield enormous political, social, and economic power through their control over vast amounts of data generated by consumers and workers. Algorithmic management, which is fed by data, opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues involving discrimination, privacy, surveillance and monitoring, and power relations in the workplace. How should the labor movement respond?


Reiner Hoffmann, DGB

Josh Kellermann, RWDSU

Michelle Penson, AFL-CIO


Brishen Rogers, Georgetown Law


4:00-4:45 pm        Networking Coffee Reception


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