Google Workers Have Officially Formed A Union

Alphabet Workers Union is live and representing over 225 Google employees and contractors.

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After multiple instances of collective action and demonstrations against management decisions, employees at Google have formed a minority union called the Alphabet Workers Union with the help of organizers from the Communication Workers of America, a union group that works with telecommunications and media workers.

Traditionally, when employees come together to unionize in the United States they have to recruit enough employees to petition their state or federal labor board (usually the National Labor Relations Board or NLRB) to hold an election. If employee organizers win the vote in this election, they are recognized by the board and company and can come to the table to negotiate a contract. The Alphabet Workers Union, named for Google's parent company, has taken a slightly different approach to make their organizing more feasible in the generally union-hostile tech industry.

Instead of focusing on being able to negotiate, the Alphabet Workers Union isn't even currently looking to be officially recognized by Google. Contracts are not their priority; instead the union is meant to serve as a more solid foundation for the activism employees have already been engaging in. In the past two years, Google employees have staged protests and demonstrations against Google's policies on sexual harassment, contractor benefits, and working with US Immigration agency ICE. Additionally, by becoming a minority union, Google's contract workers (who currently outnumber their regular employees) can join as well. Workers who have opted to join the union are being provided with protections and resources, and pay 1% of their income in union dues to support their paid organizing staff, and are technically part of CWA local 1400.

How this organization will impact Google's products and services like Google Stadia remains to be seen. On the one hand, employees are not going after more common union goals like better wages or paid time off, but on the other, tensions with executive leadership may flare as workers continue applying pressure to the company to conform to their ethical standards.

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