On 4 Jan, a group of 230 Google employees has announced that they are creating an association with Communications Workers of America (CWA). This Google Union is open to all the employees at Alphabet (parent company of Google). As it’s not a large union, so it didn’t go through the legal procedure. Hello World, meet with the Alphabet Worker Union (AWU).
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Many organizers like Sen, Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are supporting this news. You must want to know more about CWA, the number of members in the union, and why this union has been made? Check out the story behind Alphabet Workers Union, and there is a lot to find out.
The Google Union
For the last two-three years, Google employees have been doing walkouts and protest against the company. Many employees are standing against the company’s decision to work with the Pentagon on targeted drone strikes, paying Andy Rubin $90 million even after finding him accused of sexual harassment and designing a China search engine.
Recently few employees stood against Google’s decision of AI ethicist Timnit Gebru. Now, all the employees are trying to combine these efforts and want to make it one voice. However, the Walkout Twitter account of Google openly supports the AWU, but the actions are not the same.
What about Minority Union?
As AMU is a solidarity union, it doesn’t need to go through the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) procedure. AMU just needs to convince maximum employees and take their sign. “Google workers taking advantage of the union and putting demands out there,” said Clarissa Redwine. According to union workers “The Union is about the longevity of activism instead of any politics and the negotiable contract offered by the company”.
Advantages of Alphabet Workers Union
- The union keeps its arms open for all the customers and employees of the Alphabet.
- Currently, at Google, there are more temporary workers than full-time staff but doesn’t receive many benefits. AMU is planning to make the union one voice of all the janitors and cafeteria workers with engineers and product managers. According to Hasting professor – Veena Dubal, it will be challenging to make the majority union as there is already a labour union of Google.
- Moreover, Google has the advantage of ignoring the issues of the majority union. Google hires temporary workers to avoid any kind of chaos of unionism. Dubal stated that” its tactics of Google to divide workers and avoid dealing with most employees”.
What all other objectives of Union?
Redwine wrote it’s not the first time in Google when employees come together to make a union.
In 2017, the union made to fight against the security guards at Google and Facebook for contract negotiation. Moreover, in 2019, 80 contract workers in Pittsburgh has made the first worker union of Google.
As per April Glaser at NBC, in 2020 workers at Kickstarted came together to make the first white-collar, full-time union in the technology industry.
Kickstarters is indeed a small company compared to Google. It has almost 200 employees, whereas Google has 123,000 full-time staff and 130,000 contractors, making AMU at Google unmatched. If the union is successful, then it will probably become an authorized organization.
Communication Workers of America
Communication Workers of America is the biggest union in the US with 700,000 members in it. Telecom workers initially formed this union, but now game developers, tech employees, and many other workers joined it. The AWU – Google union, is affiliated with the campaign of CWA to organize digital employees.
As per reports, Google employees has made a secret union a year ago but decided to go public under CWA’s support. However, it is a minority union; there is no need to support a larger organization. Hence, the experience of CWA will help the union to stand firm against Google’s management.
Do people like the involvement of CWA?
No, not everyone appreciates the involvement of CWA. Amr Gaber – an engineer who helped in organizing the Google walkouts two years ago, says that “the organization cares more about claiming authority than acknowledging the need of workers”.
A security engineer who was fired by Google in 2019, said that “CWA is a spontaneous organization and it announces things without considering confirmation (the way they put my name in the press without my consent), and it feels similar.
Objective of the AMU
There is no demand list published by AMU. Before taking any step, it would like to know about the ideas of new members. But the Union organizers indicated that they wouldn’t stand with inequality. AMU organizer and Google Engineer – Alan Morales says “We want to make sure that tech companies make this world a better place by using its advanced technology”.
Does the Union of few hundred members will bring change?
I think AMU is not going to be a group of a few hundreds of people. When the AMU came out publicly, it had 230 members, and within 24 hours the members count boost up to 400. Undoubtedly, the number of members will be going to increase in the organizations. Morale (organizer of AMU) said, “The union expects a greater boost in the numbers of members as now the union is public”. Everything starts with zero, and to reach to thousand members, AMU has a long journey to cover.
What is the response of Google to AMU?
Yesterday, Google issued a statement that states that “We support our employees in protecting labour rights, but if the AMU keeps growing, it will bring some changes”. Google had already hired IRI consultants in 2019; it works against the unions. Moreover, in 2019 Google has fired four people who were involved in activism.
According to a few employees of Google, the company will keep firing the activists. And the active employees can even face performance-based issues.
Hence, it will be true that Google will not tolerate this type of behaviour. Ex-employees of Google want that the company should start considering before creating any product. They should use their technology to help people and not just rule the world.
The strongest union is Service Employees International Union with 1,901,161 members.
The states which have the strongest unions are California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
The oldest union was American Federation of Labor founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886.