Striking Seattle Workers Win Against Surveillance Cameras in Vehicles

Sandwich company Homegrown put artificial intelligence powered cameras in drivers' vehicles. Now drivers will be allowed to cover them up.
Foresight Camera
Image: Foresight Analytics
On the Clock is Motherboard's reporting on the organized labor movement, gig work, automation, and the future of work.

Delivery drivers for Seattle-based sandwich company Homegrown have won a major victory against artificial intelligence assisted surveillance cameras placed in their vehicles. After a strike earlier this month, workers say they were given the right to place privacy screens over the cameras, according to an announcement from union UNITE HERE Local 8.

The news signals the rise of artificial intelligence assisted cameras placed in delivery vehicles and the visceral push back against them. Motherboard previously reported on how similar cameras installed to monitor Amazon delivery drivers were punishing the workers for mistakes they didn’t make.

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“My coworkers and I took the collective decision to strike in protest of invasive surveillance cameras that the company had installed in our delivery vans and we won! We are thrilled and I’m really proud that not only did we take the first strike against surveillance, but we showed that striking is how we win,” Manya Janowitz, a Homegrown delivery driver, said in a statement published with the announcement.

Has your company installed similar cameras? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Homegrown says its product as “sustainably sourced, ingredient by ingredient, farm by farm” on its website. It mission is to “Reduce environmental impact. Craft the best food. Provide exceptional service. Cultivate our people,” the website adds.

Earlier this month, Homegrown drivers entered their vehicles to find 4-inch cameras made by a company called Foresight Analytics that tracked their eye movements, listened in with microphones, and used facial recognition technology, the Seattle Times reported at the time

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Image: Foresight Analytics.

“A connected AI dash-cam system for fleets and their insurers,” the company’s website reads. Foresight Analytics did not respond to a request for comment.

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The announcement said that the workers have been organizing since June 3.

Anita Seth, president of UNITE HERE Local 8, said in a statement published with the announcement that “No worker should be subjected to this kind of invasive, constant surveillance.  This historic victory shows that workers, acting collectively, can protect their rights to privacy and respect.”

UPS has also installed driver-facing surveillance cameras, The Guardian reported.

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