More than 200 workers at Alphabet have formed a labor union. The Alphabet Workers Union, which includes some employees of the company’s Google unit, will be part of the Communication Workers of America and will be open to employees and third-party contractors.
The “minority union” will have limited power under U.S. labor law until it is supported by a majority of employees. Alphabet employs more than 130,000 people.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, who are officers in the union, cited the company’s retaliation against employee organizers, support for repressive regimes, and collaboration with a Pentagon artificial-intelligence program as part of their rationale for forming. They said the company’s policy of forced arbitration for claims of sexual harassment was ended amid pressure from employees.
In 2018, some 20,000 employees staged a walkout over tens of millions of dollars paid out to executives accused of sexual misconduct, they said.
“We are the workers who built Alphabet. We write code, clean offices, serve food, drive buses, test self-driving cars, and do everything needed to keep this behemoth running,” Koul and Shaw wrote. “Yet time and again, company leaders have put profits ahead of our concerns.”
Last month, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Google, alleging the company unlawfully fired workers who had accessed documents related to the company’s policing of internal forums and meeting rooms. At the time, Google said it supported a “culture of internal discussion” and the actions of the employees constituted a serious breach of trust.
The announcement of the formation of the union comes as tech companies have seen more organizing. Last year, Kickstarter and Glitch saw the creation of unions at their companies. The Independent Drivers Guild, a union-affiliated group that represents rideshare drivers, recently won concessions on tips and rest breaks.