Google workers unionise
More than 700 Google engineers and other workers have formed a union, the group revealed on Monday, capping years of growing activism at one of the world’s largest companies and presenting a rare beachhead for labour organisers in staunchly anti-union Silicon Valley.
The union’s creation is highly unusual for the tech industry, which has long resisted efforts to organise its largely white-collar work force. It follows increasing demands by employees at Google for policy overhauls on pay, harassment and ethics, and is likely to escalate tensions with top leadership.
The new union, called the Alphabet Workers Union after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was organised in secret for the better part of a year and elected its leadership last month. The group is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents workers in telecommunications and media in the United States and Canada.
But unlike a traditional union, which demands that an employer come to the bargaining table to agree on a contract, the Alphabet Workers Union is a so-called minority union that represents a fraction of the company’s more than 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Workers said it was primarily an effort to give structure and longevity to activism at Google, rather than to negotiate for a contract.
The structure gives the union the latitude to include Google contractors, who outnumber full-time workers and who would be excluded from a traditional union.
Although they will not be able to negotiate a contract, the Alphabet Workers Union can use other tactics to pressure Google into changing its policies, labour experts said. Minority unions often turn to public pressure campaigns and lobby legislative or regulatory bodies to influence employers.
Source: New York Times