Workers Organize Union at Google

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. January 4, 2021
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Google office building

​Unions finally have gained some traction in California's Silicon Valley, as more than 225 Google engineers announced the formation of a union at the company on Jan. 4. The union's creation is unusual in the tech industry, where few efforts to unionize have succeeded. We've gathered news on the union's formation from trusted media outlets.

'Minority Union' Formed

The Alphabet Workers Union, named after Google's parent company Alphabet, is a "minority union" that will focus on giving structure to activism at Google, rather than negotiating for a contract, as traditional unions do. Affiliated with the Communication Workers of America, the Alphabet Workers Union represents a fraction of the company's more than 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Kara Silverstein, Google's director of people operations, said, "We've always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we've always done, we'll continue engaging directly with all our employees." The minority-union structure gives the union the ability to include Google contractors, who would be excluded from a traditional union.

(The New York Times)

Kickstarter Was Organized Last Year

Previous attempts to unionize the tech sector have been met with limited success. Nonetheless, Kickstarter employees unionized last year. A union was sought not only to bargain over pay and benefits but to give workers more clout. The vote for a union was close—46 yes, 37 no. Kickstarter signed onto a neutrality agreement in the lead-up to the National Labor Relations Board election, abstaining from communicating with employees about its point of view that they shouldn't form a union.

(Wired)

Glitch Workers Unionize

Last year, online software collaboration company Glitch joined the Communication Workers of America Local 1101 and was organized partly through the union's Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, launched in January 2020. "Our mission is to make the tech world a better place by enabling all coders to create web apps they love in a fast, friendly and safe way," the company said in a statement. "That means voluntarily supporting our employees' decision to unionize."

(TechCrunch)

Pittsburgh Google Contractors Organized in 2019

Approximately 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh joined the United Steelworkers Union in 2019 to improve pay and benefits. The contractors, who work for HCL Technologies, maintained that despite working with full-time Google employees, they received only a few of the same benefits. "We work with lots of partners, many of which have unionized workforces and many of which don't," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "As with all our partners, whether HCL's employees unionize or not is between them and their employer. We'll continue to partner with HCL."

(The Verge)

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Organizing Drive at Amazon Warehouse Advances

Amazon workers at a warehouse outside Birmingham, Ala., are headed toward a vote on unionization, following the National Labor Relations Board's finding in December 2020 that there was enough support to hold a union election. Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox said, "We don't believe this group represents the majority of our employees' views. Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire, and we encourage anyone to compare our overall pay, benefits and workplace environment to any other company with similar jobs." The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is seeking representation of 1,500 workers.

(CNBC)

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