In a first, more than 200 workers at Google and other Alphabet Inc businesses formed a labor union for U.S. and Canadian offices. They however fell short of the support required to force Alphabet Inc to come to the bargaining table.
Backers of the union believe, the “Alphabet Workers Union,” which incidentally evolved from a group of activist employees, will help shield employees from firings or other forms of retaliation. They also believe that the collective will be in a better position to collect dues, hire support staff and negotiate with the company more aggressively.
The union will be part of the Communications Workers of America labor group, which also represents employees from AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc; members will have to pay 1% of their total compensation as dues.
According to Kara Silverstein, director of people operations at Google, the company supports its employees’ “protected labor rights” and will “continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Under U.S. labor law, Alphabet Inc can ignore the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it. Further, the union plans on representing third-party contractors, a class of workers whose demands Alphabet also may ignore.
Union leaders have acknowledged that they are unlikely to receive widespread support soon.
While the tech industry has kept unionism at bay with well-paying jobs, free meals, and access to gyms, the industry has seen rising labor activism following regulators grappling with the rising power of tech companies.
In a statement Alphabet union’s vice chairman Chewy Shaw said, small fractions of the workforce successfully protested in recent years over workplace equity and ethical business practices leading to introductions of new policies around workplace as well as the dropping of a drone software project with the U.S. military.
Alphabet Inc’s Google however continues to collaborate with Chinese universities which have ties to the Chinese military.