An effort has begun to unionize workers at Google, and it aims to include temporary workers, vendors and contractors — also known as TVCs — along with directly employed workers. Taking part will be both tech workers and others in nontech positions such as food servers.
Known as the Alphabet Workers Union — after the parent company’s name of Alphabet — the effort is backed by the Communications Workers of America.
The Alphabet Workers Union reports more than 200 workers have begun taking part in the effort as of December, including TVCs. The effort is limited to workers in the US and Canada.
“For far too long, thousands of us at Google — and other subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — have had our workplace concerns dismissed by executives,” Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, executive chair and vice chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, respectively, wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “Our bosses have collaborated with repressive governments around the world. They have developed artificial intelligence technology for use by the Department of Defense and profited from ads by a hate group.”
Koul and Shaw also wrote that the company hasn’t made changes to meaningfully address retention issues of people of color. They cited the departure of Timnit Gebru as an example. Gebru was an artificial intelligence researcher and co-lead of an AI ethics team at Google, VentureBeat reported.
Unionization has happened at Google before. In September 2019, contract workers at Google in Pittsburgh working through HCL Technologies voted to join a union.
TVCs have been an issue at the company before, and Google has taken steps to help temporary and contract workers in the past. In April 2019, the company announced that these workers in the US would receive full benefits, including comprehensive healthcare, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage.