'This is historic': Google, Alphabet workers form first-ever union

The labour group 'builds upon years of courageous organising'

'This is historic': Google, Alphabet workers form first-ever union

After “years of courageous organising,” employees and contractors at Alphabet Inc – parent company of Google – will soon be able to join a worker’s union regardless of their employment status.

The Alphabet Workers Union, as supported by the Communications Workers of America, is the first labour group of its kind in Silicon Valley welcoming tenured staff as well as temps, vendors and contractors (TVCs) for its members.

TVCs, which comprise half of Google’s workforce, are often hired without the same benefits as full-time employees. But union membership now will accord TVCs protections under employment law.

Read more: Google workers and investors join forces at shareholder meeting

“This union builds upon years of courageous organising by Google workers,” said Nicki Anselmo, the union’s program manager.

“We’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively,” Anselmo added. “Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade.”

The union believes collective action has been the “only tactic that has ensured workers are respected and heard”.

Read more: Google activists point to ‘hostile’ work environment after walkout

“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts, to employee classification, to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” the group said.

The union will also collect dues from members; elect a board of directors; and operate with the help of paid staff.

“This is historic – the first union at a major tech company by and for all tech workers,” said software engineer Dylan Baker. “We will elect representatives; we will make decisions democratically; we will pay dues; and we will hire skilled organisers to ensure all workers at Google know they can work with us if they actually want to see their company reflect their values.”

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