Hundreds of workers at Google parent company Alphabet have formed a union, the group announced, saying it signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America and formed the Alphabet Workers Union.
The move is significant because only a small number of tech firms such as Kickstarter and Glitch have recently unionized.
“On Nov. 1, 2018, at 11:10 a.m., 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,” said the union organizers in a New York Times article. It came after “the company had paid tens of millions of dollars to two executives who had been accused of sexual misconduct toward our co-workers, staying silent about the alleged abuse and letting them walk away with no consequences,” they said in an opinion article with the New York Times.
“For too long, big tech companies like @Google have undermined workers’ right to organize. I’m proud to stand in solidarity with Google workers in MA and across the country who are joining @CWAUnion for fair pay and working conditions. I’m in this fight with you all the way,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in response to the Alphabet employees forming a union.
The union, according to the opinion article, is going to be open for workers at Google and Alphabet subsidiaries like YouTube.
The firm in 2018 also received blowback for proposing to operate a new search engine in China, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) employs ubiquitous controls over what people can search and reach. According to reports at the time, Google employees quit over the matter.
“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. Our bosses have collaborated with repressive governments around the world,” the two employees—Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw—wrote Monday for the NY Times.
According to the pair, about 226 Google employees so far have signed union cards.
Later in the piece, Shaw and Koul noted that Google used to have the motto, “Don’t be evil,” which it later abandoned.
“We will live by that motto,” they said. “Alphabet is a powerful company, responsible for vast swaths of the internet. It is used by billions of people across the world. It has a responsibility to prioritize the public good. It has a responsibility to its thousands of workers and billions of users to make the world a better place.”
In a statement to news outlets, Kara Silverstein, an Alphabet spokeswoman, said the company supports workers’ rights. She did not elaborate on the employees forming a union.
“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,” Silverstein said in the statement.
Alphabet has not yet responded to a request for comment.