de Blasio 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2019


NEW YORK – The de Blasio campaign today unveiled a new automation policy to protect working people whose livelihoods are threatened by the unchecked growth of automation, the farthest reaching proposal of any 2020 candidate to address technology-related job losses.
“Generations of working Americans greeted technological advancement in the workplace with hope instead of fear because they knew it complemented good-paying jobs instead of replacing them,” said Bill de Blasio. “But current automation practices are an existential threat to our nation’s workforce that destroys good jobs and directs more and more of the profits only to the wealthiest Americans. My automation plan is the only one that would provide security for current workers and facilitates new, secure good-paying jobs for the next generation of working people.”
The de Blasio plan contains several major proposals to address automation. Firstly, it would create a new agency, the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency (FAWPA), with broad authority to regulate the widespread growth of automation and oversee its impact on working people. Any major company seeking to increase automated operations would be required to seek a permit from FAWPA with approval conditioned on the company’s plans to protect existing workers, either by ensuring they receive new jobs with similar pay or severance packages that reflect their tenure of service to the company.
FAWPA would also oversee consumer protections and public safety regulations that would result from automation in fields such as driverless vehicles.
The proposal would also close tax loopholes like the “accelerated depreciation” loophole and others that allow corporations to invest in automation and then deduct those investments from their taxes, even if such automation investments would destroy their employees’ jobs.
It would further institute a “robot tax,” similar to what has been proposed by luminaries such as Bill Gates, on large companies in an attempt to slow the rate of job losses due to automation and hasten the creation of more secure jobs. Corporations that automate procedures which eliminate jobs and fail to provide adequate replacement employment would be required to pay the equivalent of five years worth of payroll taxes up front for each worker whose job is eliminated.
Using the new revenue streams created from the closed tax loopholes and the “robot tax,” FAWPA would facilitate the creation of new, high-paying union jobs in crucial fields such as green energy, health care, and early childhood education. Workers displaced by automation would go to the front of the line for these new positions at comparable salaries to their previous jobs.
Automation may be the largest threat facing the American workforce today. Roughly one quarter of U.S. employees face “high exposure” to the automation of their jobs in the coming decades, a Brookings Institution report states. And according to a McKinsey study, by 2030, as many as one-third of American jobs may disappear because of automation.
Addressing the threat of automation to the workforce has been a longstanding concern of Mayor de Blasio’s. Last week, the Mayor visited the Port of Los Angeles to meet with members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who are currently engaged in an action to prevent their jobs from being replaced by automated container moving vehicles. In New York City, Mayor de Blasio has capped the number of Uber vehicles in the city and taken steps to protect rank and file taxi drivers.
More information about the de Blasio automation plan can be found at

In Barack Obama’s farewell address he warned Americans about a grave threat that has received less attention that it merits. “The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas,” he said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”

The threat is indeed grave. Already, 36 million American jobs are highly likely to be automated out of existence in the coming decades.

What is the federal government doing to prevent this catastrophe? Nothing. No process for, licensing, permitting or even tracking the use of automation. No process to control it, slow it down or reverse its unsafe and damaging aspects. And not a single step to help workers in its crosshairs.

Technological innovation can of course be a net positive for the U.S. economy. But left unchecked and unregulated, the benefits of innovation will flow overwhelmingly to corporate CEOs and shareholders while blue collar service, transportation, and industrial workers will suffer.
As President, Bill de Blasio will take bold action to ensure that workers, consumers, and communities are protected from automation, including ensuring opportunities for employment for those displaced by technological advances. De Blasio’s plan will take on the threat of automation and regulate it so that the benefits of technological innovation are broadly shared and not concentrated in the hands of corporate America at the expense of working people.

Protect Workers: The Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency

Despite the massive impact automation is set to have on our economy, there is no federal agency dedicated to tracking and regulating automation to protect workers and communities from harmful impacts.

Bill de Blasio will create a new federal regulatory agency, the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency. This agency will have broad authority to oversee and regulate the use of automation and the mandate to ensure that any workers displaced by technology are re-employed either with their current company or at an equivalent job in their field or in other emerging fields.
The agency will be responsible for

  • Permitting: Currently automation happens in the dark, without any warning or consideration of the consequences for workers. De Blasio’s Automation and Worker Protection Agency would establish a permitting process to ensure that companies considering technology that would cause substantial workforce reductions are required to obtain approval before implementing those plans. This process would include reporting any estimated reductions in hours and jobs, and worker notification modeled on the WARN Act. This will ensure that displaced workers have early notice of potential job losses, allowing those workers to begin negotiating for alternative employment with the company or to begin the re-employment process with the agency’s jobs pipeline. Final approval will be contingent on impacted workers being either re-employed in new jobs with the company or enrolled in the agency’s jobs pipeline to be provided employment in alternative fields that are priorities for federal investment in the de Blasio administration.
  • Worker retention: Under de Blasio’s plan, companies that eliminate jobs will be required either to offer workers alternative employment with equivalent pay and benefits, or enroll the workers in the agency’s re-employment pipeline and provide severance at two weeks for each year of service.
  • Re-employment: For any workers who are displaced by technology, the single most important need they have is a new job. The agency will administer a displaced worker re-employment pipeline, directly connecting displaced workers to new jobs in fields that are targeted for federal investment such as green energy infrastructure, health care, and early childhood education. This pipeline will be used as the first source “hiring hall” for jobs created through new federal investments in these fields.
  • Consumer protection: Implement uniform federal rules to protect public safety in driverless car, long-haul trucking, and other emerging industries.
Tax Automation to Fund Job Creation

Echoing Bill Gates’s call for a “robot tax,” Mayor de Blasio would update and modernize the tax code to account for the rapid growth of automation and the potentially harmful fiscal impact stemming from the loss of taxable income that is replaced by tax deductible capital investments. Under this tax, any company that does not identify and provide an alternate and equivalent job for a displaced worker will be required to pay taxes equivalent to the payroll taxes of each displaced worker for five years, with revenue going directly to job-creating infrastructure, public works, and public service investments that hire those displaced workers.

In addition, de Blasio’s plan would eliminate tax loopholes that incentivize automation. He will end the practice of “accelerated depreciation,” the tax loophole that allows big corporations to lower their taxes when purchasing equipment that could be used to reduce jobs. Eliminating this loophole will generate $700B over a decade — revenue that de Blasio will invest in infrastructure projects and other investments that will provide new jobs for displaced workers.