Recently over 400 Google engineers and other workers began unionizing. After years of growing activism at Google, one of the world’s largest companies, this was perhaps on the anvil. This move could push tech workers to organize beyond the petitions and protests.
The Union leaders said, that they were working towards building a formal structure for workers at Google. And this began with over 226 employees signing on the union cards with the Communications Workers of America.
However, the director of people operations at the organization felt that it was better to engage directly with the employees as they always have. And he also says that the organization has been a frontrunner in promoting healthy work-life balance and positive work culture.
The Alphabet Workers Union
The Alphabet Workers Union’s announcement is turning heads. And that’s because it came in just a few weeks after Google letting go of an artificial intelligence and ethics researcher. While companies letting go of employees isn’t news, the person being of color got a few people thinking that this could have been an unethical rightsizing. We aren’t sure what went down there, but experts suggest that this is one reason for the software conglomerate to see a union uprising!
The Alphabet Workers Union, represents employees in the Silicon Valley and cities like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Seattle. It provides protection and resources to workers in the union. The union members will have to contribute at least one percent of their compensation towards the union funds.
However, for now, the Alphabet Workers Union cannot negotiate a contract. But the labor law experts suggest that the union members could use numerous other persuasion techniques for policy changes at Google. Minority unions may cave into public pressure campaigns and lobby legislative or regulatory bodies to impact employers.
The Complaint Against Two Employees
The complaint included the names of two employees, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers. Both were fired by the company in late 2019 owing to employee activism. Berland worked against Google’s decision to work while consulting IRI Consultants, a firm primarily known for its anti-union efforts. Now, the NLRB has found Google’s policy of reviewing coworkers’ calendars unlawful. While there have been other employees who were in the wake of the protests, NLRB found Berland and Spiers’ terminations, who violated labor laws.
What if Google Does not Choose to Settle?
Going by a report in The New York Times, the complaints will go to an administrative judge, if Google decides not to resolve the issues. And this could force the organization to pay the wages to both Berland and Spiers.
200 Google Employees Established a Union
According to a Wall Street Journal report, over 200 of The Alphabet Workers were on board the American Local union’s Communications Workers. And that’s a significant number given that the tech giant’s global operations see a unionizing attempt for the first time in all these years.
The Union Is First of Its Kind
The union is one of the first to open doors for employees and contractors at an Alphabet company. According to organizers, the members will support the union by paying at least 1 percent of their annual base pay and bonus every year.
The Immediate Goal of the Union
Organizing the efforts began over a year ago as part of a rising tide of activism within Google. Members of the union are currently not limiting themselves to getting formal recognition from The Alphabet or aiming at a collective bargain. Instead, they are aspiring for employees to speak about the company without the fear of it affecting their career.
Retaliation of Google Against Workers
The employee group suggests that Google retaliates against employees who raise their voice against the organization. There were more efforts to retaliate than resolving complaints against discrimination and harassment. And not a long time ago, Google was under the radar of the National Labor Relations Board for one such retaliation. NLRB filed a complaint against Google for interrogating and firing employees who organized a workplace meeting. However, a company spokesperson denied the claims.
What Does Google Have to Say?
The management team at Google have come out voicing their support for employee rights. A few spoke on how the organization has always been employee-centric and would prefer engaging with the individual employees over a union.
The supportive and rewarding work culture is something the world knows and admires, but we cannot deny the workforce’s issues. So, we need to wait and watch to know how this one pans out!