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5 Ways to Stop Corporations From Ruining the Future of Work

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Conservatives claim the government shouldn't pick winners and losers. But that's what we've done for years. We already have an industrial policy when the government bails out Wall Street banks, gives special tax breaks to oil, and hands out subsidies to Big Agriculture. But it's a backwards industrial policy, led by powerful industry lobbyists. We need a forward-looking industrial policy that develops the industries and jobs of the future, and does so openly, in ways that benefit working people and society.

Finally, we need to assure that our workers are protected from the downsides: That new information technologies along with their increasing potential for monitoring and surveilling workers don't undermine worker autonomy, dignity, and privacy. That the use of algorithms to manage workers doesn't give top management unwarranted power in the workplace. And that workplace technologies don't make work more unpredictable for millions of workers.

Workers need some control over how these technologies and the data they produce are used. And for this they need strong unions.

New technologies advancing toward our workplace shouldn't reduce the standard of living of Americans. They should raise our standard of living. But that won't happen automatically.

Workers need a voice. Government needs a responsible role. We deserve a forward-looking and open industrial policy. And the rules of the game need to be fair. We should all be able to steer the direction of technological change and influence how new technologies affect our lives.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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