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A labor group has made an app to help Walmart workers organize — and the company is freaking out

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Walmart has long been the toughest nut for labor organizers to crack, as the company’s brutally effective anti-union campaigns have regularly crushed unions’ efforts to get workers to sign up.

However, a labor group called OUR Walmart has come out with a new mobile application that Walmart workers can use on their phones to help them organize for better wages and benefits — and it seems that Walmart is not happy about it.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart has sent out warnings to all of its employees that they should not download and install the WorkIt app onto their devices because it will allegedly swipe all their important personal information. In reality, the Journal notes, it only asks users to register and share their job titles and Walmart store numbers — and its permissions do not include location data, contacts or photos.

The purpose of the app is to help workers communicate with one another so they can learn about their rights as employees, as well as to develop strategies for improving workplace policies. While there are already a lot of online forums where Walmart employees gather to talk about issues at work, OUR Walmart wants to give employees a centralized hub to help them with all of their complaints and questions.

Bloomberg notes that the app takes advantage of IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence chatbot to quickly answer employees’ questions about company policies and worker rights.

“On the first day, a group of 18 current and former employees identified 50 main issues and wrote questions workers might ask,” Bloomberg writes. “They spent the next day answering them, relying on policy manuals that OUR Walmart had pieced together over the years, their own experience, and some expert advice. By the end they’d trained Watson to answer 93 questions.”

And because Watson is designed to keep learning, the app will only get smarter the more that people use it.

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The app is now available for Android phones and can be downloaded at this link.


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