Google workers form a union to protect members from layoffs
More than 200 workers from Google and other Alphabet units formed a union for the U.S. and Canadian offices on Monday, building on years of protests over working conditions and business practices, but did not get enough support to force the tech giant to sit at the negotiating table. .
Sponsors believe that “Alphabet The Workers’ Union, “which grew out of an informal group of activist employees, will better protect members from layoffs or other forms of retaliation. It will also allow the group to charge fees to hire support staff and attack the company more aggressively. than in the past. ” internal leaders and external labor experts said.
The union will be part of the Communications Workers of America labor group, which also represents employees of Verizon and AT&T. Alphabet members will pay dues of 1 percent of their total compensation.
Kara Silverstein, Director of People Operations at Google, said in response Monday that the company supports the “protected labor rights” of its employees and will “continue to interact directly with all of our employees.”
Unlike traditional unions in the United States, the Alphabet group is a so-called “minority union” that will not be able to force the company to collectively bargain over wages or other matters.
Under US labor law, Alphabet can ignore the union’s demands until the majority of employees support it. Additionally, the union plans to represent third-party contractors, a class of workers whose demands Alphabet may also ignore.
Union leaders acknowledge that widespread support is unlikely soon. High-paying jobs, with perks like free meals and gyms, have mostly kept unionisation out of the tech industry.
But labor activism is creeping into the tech industry as workers and regulators face the power of sprawling internet companies, including Alphabet.
Chewy Shaw, vice president of the Alphabet union, said that small fractions of the workforce have successfully protested in recent years over fairness in the workplace and ethical business practices. Those actions helped Google introduce new policies around workplace investigations and abandon a drone software project with the US military.
The union aims to mount similar campaigns, with the new funding and structure granting more legitimacy and resources, Shaw said.
Google has come under fire from the US labor regulator, which has accused the company of illegally interrogating several workers who were later fired for protesting the company’s policies and trying to organize a union. Google has said it was confident to act legally.
Non-traditional contractor unions or a small portion of employees in companies, universities and government agencies have successfully lobbied for change for more than a century, said Joseph McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University.
Shaw, a site reliability engineer at Google, said he studied organizing in small groups, including Chicago public school teachers as well as Tennessee university staff and professors.
More recently, the Independent Drivers Guild, a 4-year group representing 80,000 contracted riders in New York City, has won member benefits related to tips, disciplinary appeals, and breaks.