Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, two Google employees, announced the formation of a union on January 4, 2021: the Alphabet Workers Union. 226 employees of the group have already decided to join this union in order to assert their rights. A union open to all, said the two employees, who hope things will happen internally.
The Alphabet Workers Union: a union in Silicon Valley
The climate in the Google offices didn’t seem ideal in recent months. In particular, there are some taboo subjects, such as the antitrust matter, which is currently going on and which no one dares to discuss internally. A few months ago, Google was also accused of spying on its employees with a Chrome extension that could prevent them from organizing and mobilizing, particularly to form a union.
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Presumably this didn’t stop Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw from forming the Alphabet Workers Union, the first union on Google. The formation of the union was announced in an article in the New York Times. Google employees say they have a contract with the large Communications Workers of America union, which represents workers from large technology companies such as AT&T and Verizon.
They want this union to be open and encourage everyone in the Alphabet group to join them: temporary workers, salespeople, contractors, Google, YouTube or Waymo. Alphabet employs more than 130,000 people worldwide.
Tensions between managers and employees
Both employees said, “For too long, thousands of Google employees have been unfairly fired by executives. Our bosses have worked with several dictatorships around the world. They developed artificial intelligence for the Department of Defense. You have failed to make the changes necessary to significantly address the ethical issues that we have repeatedly raised. “
The tensions between employees and managers have been increasing internally for several months. Some employees had resigned, especially when Google was working with China on the Dragonfly project. More recently it was a military project that caused other staff to leave the ship.
A few weeks ago, Google fired researcher Timnit Gebru, a specialist in ethical artificial intelligence. She accuses Mountain View of suppressing her voice because of the lack of diversity within the company and the variances in artificial intelligence. The Alphabet Workers Union intends to defend these various causes.
Kara Silverstein, General Manager and HR Manager, said: “We have always worked hard to create a great place to work for our employees. We know labor law and do our best to ensure that it is respected within the Alphabet group. As always, we will continue to deal with our employees. “