It has emerged that around 200 Google and Alphabet employees wish to form a Union. As reported by Tech Crunch this move has occurred with help from the Communication Workers of America Union’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA).
Alphabet, the parent company of Google is one of the most powerful tech companies in the world and has been hard at work to cement that position. Back in August, it emerged that the company had expressed an interest in acquiring TikTok after the social media platform became embroiled in a legal dispute with the government.
One of the main moves made by Alphabet in 2020 was the migration of Google Play Music users over to YouTube Music. Despite many issues along the way, Q3 results showed a strong basis of paid users demonstrating that once again the company had pulled the move off.
However, all the growth in the sector appears to have come to a head with workers. Following the creation of unions at Kickstarter and Glitch last year it looks like Alphabet and Google will follow suit.
Google and Alphabet employees seeking to set up a union
Over 200 workers have signed up to support the union so far pledging 1% of their salaries towards the organization. For now, it appears that the vast majority of workers that have signed on are from the San Francisco and Cambridge offices.
Dylan Baker, a software engineer at Google, has made a statement on the issue. He described the potential union as “historic” pointing out it would be “the first union at a major tech company by and for all tech workers”.
CODE-CWA union organizer Wes McEnany has pointed out some of the reasons for workers in the sector now looking to band together. He noted that the industry is full of a new generation of workers growing with younger people.
He pointed out that “some of them make a lot of money and are working at companies that do really bad things”. Now he believes that many workers think “enough is enough” and want to make change.
Union to be formed in response to historic workers issues
Google has faced a number of issues with their workforce in recent months and years. As a result, a move such is this is hardly surprising. For example, back in 2018 Google employees walked out over the way the company handled sexual harassment issues.
Another major issue workers have pointed out is that the majority of Alphabet workers are contractors. This means they miss out on major benefits others are afforded.
However, there are still a number of steps before an Alphabet union formally comes to fruition. Firstly they need to gain a majority of workers in favour of a union. Given Alphabet employes over 100,000 individuals could take some time.
Then they will have to gain recognition from the company itself which could be problematic. For example, Kickstarter refused to recognise a workers initiative back in 2019. This forced them to hold formal elections with the National Labor Board.
However, this could be a potential watershed movement for Google and the tech industry as a whole. Workers organising can have profound effects on the ways companies operate. How this all shakes out will be well worth keeping an eye on over the coming months.