Google employees form The Alphabet Workers Union

David Murphy

Workers at Google have formed a union open to employees of Google and all other Alphabet companies.

The Alphabet Workers Union is the first of its kind in the company’s history - the first union open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company, with dues-paying members, an elected board of directors, and paid organizing staff.

“This union builds upon years of courageous organizing by Google workers,” said Nicki Anselmo, Program Manager. “From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade.”

The new union is part of the Communications Workers of America (CWA)’s CODE-CWA (Coalition to Organize Digital Employees) project, and the workers will be members of CWA Local 1400. It follows successful union drives by other Google workers, including HCL contract workers in Pittsburgh and cafeteria workers now with UNITE HERE! in the Bay Area, as well as unions formed by workers at other tech companies like Kickstarter and Glitch.

A press release announcing the launch of the union notes the fact that Google started out a small tech company with a ‘Don’t Be Evil’ mantra, but is now one of the most influential companies in the world. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has more than 120,000 workers, but as the release also notes, half of these hired as TVCs – temps, vendors, or contractors – without the benefits afforded to full-time employees.

It also references the executives who have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in exit packages after documented sexual harassment against fellow Googlers, and how the company has taken on “unethical government contracts, like drone targeting for the military, yet kept the nature of that technology secret even to the Googlers working on those projects”. It has nots that the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ mantra is no longer included in the company’s mission statement.

The release also mention Dr. Timnit Gebru, a leading artificial intelligence researcher, who was fired “for no reason whatsoever”. “Workers who have organized to stop these trends have been met by intimidation, suppression, and blatantly illegal firings, as recently confirmed by the National Labor Relations Board,” the release points out. “Instead of listening to workers, Google hired IRI, a notorious anti-union firm, to suppress their organizing. This is how Google’s executives have chosen to interact with workers.”

In a statement responding to the launch of the union, Kara Silverstein, Director of People Operations at Google 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.”