Reports have emerged stating that the Google Union, official named the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) has now passed 700 members. As of Monday, January 11, this shows a three-fold growth since its inception at the start of the year as reported by The Verge.
It first emerged that 200 Google and Alphabet employees wished to form a union at the turn of the year. This was due to the historic issues employees of the company and contractors have faced over the years.
Many cited the fact that a large number of workers are employed as contractors. This means that they miss out on may of the perks full-time employees receive. Other issues noted was the sexual harassment issues that led to a worker walk-out in 2018.
On the face of it, Google and Alphabet maintain a public image of being one of the best places to work in the world. High profile schemes such as helping to pay off employee student debt give the company a good reputation. However, it appears to truth is somewhat different.
Now it looks like this union has begun to gain some traction amongst members. There are still a number of issues to be negotiated before the union becomes official but the momentum certainly looks to be in the workers' favour.
Google Union growing fast to over 700 members
Currently, the AWU is a minority union due it only having 700 members. This means it cannot force Google to come to the table to negotiate on any particular issue. However, it can pressurize the company by rallying workers to a cause.
We have already seen an example of this. AWU members called on YouTube to ban President Trump from the platform following the raid on the capitol.
The group put out a statement regarding this issue. It read "YouTube refuses to hold Donald Trump accountable to the platform’s own rules by choosing only to remove one video instead of removing him from the platform entirely".
The statement then claimed that YouTube "is avoiding the proactive action called for by both their workers and the broader public". As of now, YouTube is yet to change its stance on the matter.
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former labor organizer has praised the workers for the initiative and believes it could form a template for other tech companies. She said, "I’m excited that it’s a little bit different". Gonzalez, also noted that the union may face problems in forming a union to the "standard National Labor Relations Board format".
How this union operates in the future could be fascinating. It could also be the catalyst for significant change across Google and Alphabet. Looking even wider it could also have a major impact on workers across the tech industry. Something to keep a close eye on for sure.