Monday Jan 04, 2021
More than 200 Google employees in the United States have formed a workers' union culminating years of activism that presents a benchhead for labour organisations in the "staunchly anti-union Silicon Valley".
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, elected members Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw said the “Alphabet Workers Union” aims to ensure that employees work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination, the union heads wrote.
"On November 1, 2018, some 20,000 Google employees, along with employees of Waymo, Verily and other Alphabet companies, stopped working and walked off the job in cities around the world," read the op-ed. "We'd had enough."
The union leaders said Alphabet had been dismissing employees' concerns for "far too long".
"Our bosses have collaborated with repressive governments around the world," they wrote. "They have developed artificial intelligence technology for use by the Department of Defense and profited from ads by a hate group. They have failed to make the changes necessary to meaningfully address our retention issues with people of colour."
The union leaders said that "Alphabet continues to crack down on those who dare to speak out, and keep workers from speaking on sensitive and publicly important topics, like antitrust and monopoly power".
"For a handful of wealthy executives, this discrimination and unethical working environment are working as intended, at the cost of workers with less institutional power, especially Black, brown, queer, trans, disabled, and women workers," they wrote.
"Each time workers organise to demand change, Alphabet’s executives make token promises, doing the bare minimum in the hopes of placating workers."
Kara Silverstein, Google’s director of people operations, said: “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”