#DontFundEvil: Google workers form a union to combat workplace concerns

"The future of tech is stronger with the power of a union."

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Image Credit: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

More than 200 employers of Silicon Valley’s tech giant, Google, announced the formation of a union after years of activism. The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) will operate under the Communications Workers of America, an initiative known as CODE-CWA, and is open to all of the company’s employees including full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors.

Named after Google’s parent company, AWU said it “strives to protect Alphabet workers, our global society, and our world,” and will “promote solidarity, democracy, and social and economic justice.”

“For far too long, thousands of us at Google and other subsidiaries of Alphabet… have had our workplace concerns dismissed by executives,” Parul Koul, AWU’s chair, and Chewy Shaw, vice chair, said in a New York Times op-ed. “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. They have failed to make the changes necessary to meaningfully address our retention issues with people of color.”

AWU is labeled as a “minority union.” Unlike traditional labor unions, AWU represents only a small percentage of Google’s 260,000 employees and will not negotiate contracts.

“Our goals go beyond the workplace questions of, ‘Are people getting paid enough,'” Shaw, an engineer at Google said. “Our issues are going much broader. It is a time where a union is an answer to these problems.”

The union wants to ensure:

  • Our working conditions are inclusive and fair
  • Perpetrators of harassment, abuse, discrimination, and retaliation are held accountable
  • We have the freedom to decline to work on projects that don’t align with our values
  • All workers, regardless of employment status, can enjoy the same benefits.

Progressive lawmakers stood in solidarity with AWU and applauded the announcement.

Liz Shuler, secretary and treasurer of American Federation of Labor, Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), hailed the move as courageous.

AWU founders said the union “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,” Koul and Shaw said. “As Alphabet workers, we can help build that world.”

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Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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