FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

A group of Google and Alphabet workers are forming the first company-wide union. Smaller subsets of Google workers — cafeteria workers in the Bay Area and contractors in Pittsburgh — have unionized before.

The union will be open to employees, vendors, temps and contractors at Google or any other Alphabet company and is part of the Communication Workers of America’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees. The union represents workers in telecommunications and media in the United States and Canada. 

The Alphabet Workers Union is not currently planning to pursue recognition as a collective bargaining group. Instead, the Alphabet Workers Union will only represent employees who voluntarily join. It will collect dues of 1% of a member’s total compensation.

Union Executive Chair Parul Koul and Vice Chair Chewy Saw in a New York Times op-ed outlined the incidents that led to the union’s creation. Employees were upset that two high-ranking executives accused of sexual harassment were paid tens of millions to leave while the company didn’t acknowledge the complaints. Koul and Saw also discussed Project Maven, Google’s artificial-intelligence program with the Pentagon. Google did not renew its contract with the Pentagon following backlash about working in the “business of war” from both employees and the public. The most recent incident was the firing of Timnit Gebru, an artificial intelligence researcher. Gebru said she was fired for criticizing Google’s diversity efforts.

The formation of the union comes amid a National Relations Labor Board report that determined several 2019 firings were unlawful retaliation against workforce organization efforts. It accused Google of having a history of “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees.” Kara Silverstein, Google’s director of people operations, said the company will support employee labor rights and will continue engaging with employees regarding its workplace. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Google workers have formed the company’s first-ever union – CNN – 1/4/2021
The Google workers have opted for a third approach that, at least for now, does not anticipate formal recognition, said Beth Allen, communications director at CWA. That’s because traditional collective bargaining agreements “almost always exclude contractors,” Allen said, which was a nonstarter for many of the Google organizers.

Google, Alphabet employees to form union – Fox Business – 1/4/2021
Two Google software engineers announced they will form a union open to all employees of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and accused the tech giant of collaborating with repressive governments, mishandling accusations of sexual misconduct against executives and other wrongdoing.

Alphabet workers announce a union – Axios – 1/4/2021
The workers are seeking to form a minority union, which means it won’t seek formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board, won’t need to win a formal election and won’t be able to negotiate a labor contract with Alphabet. This also means that contract workers can join the union despite not having the right to formally unionize under U.S. labor laws.

Hundreds of Google Employees Have Unionized – Breitbart – 1/4/2021
A recent report from the New York Times outlines how more than 225 engineers at tech giant Google have formed a union following years of activism. The Alphabet Workers Union was reportedly organized in secret over the course of the last year.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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