Google employees form Alphabet Workers Union to bring back the 'Don't be evil' motto

Starting with 226 of Alphabet's 120,000 employees.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Workers from Google's parent company Alphabet have announced they are unionising, with the Alphabet Workers Union open to all of the tech giant's 120,000-plus employees.

The union, currently boasting a membership of 226, has the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). It's part of CWA's Coalition to Organize Digital Employees project, and the workers will be members of CWA Local 1400.

According to the union, it comprises dues-paying members, an elected board of directors, and paid organising staff. It's open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company.

"This union builds upon years of courageous organising by Google workers," program manager Nicki Anselmo said in a statement. 

"From fighting the 'real names' policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multimillion-dollar payouts that have been given to executives who've committed sexual harassment, we've seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively.

"Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade."

In announcing the new union, the group pointed to Google's roots, saying the behemoth began as a small tech company with a "Don't Be Evil" mantra, but it has since become one of the most influential companies in the world.

"Alphabet, Google's parent company, now has more than 120,000 workers. It's responsible for vast swaths of the internet, controlling tools used by billions of people across the world, with subsidiaries as varied as Waymo, Verily, Fitbit, and Wing," it added.

"Yet half of Google workers at Alphabet companies are hired as TVCs -- temps, vendors, or contractors -- without the benefits afforded to full-time employees. Executives have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in exit packages after documented sexual harassment against fellow Googlers. And the company has taken on unethical government contracts, like drone targeting for the military, yet kept the nature of that technology secret even to the Googlers working on those projects.

"It has removed its past motto from its mission statement."

See also: Google employee protest: Now Google backs off Pentagon drone AI project

Citing the termination of artificial intelligence researcher Dr Timnit Gebru from Google, the group said her exit has caused outrage from thousands of employees who are heartbroken by the company's actions and unsure of their future at Google. They also pointed to Project Maven, which was cancelled after thousands of Google staff pledged they would not work on unethical tech.

"Workers who have organised to stop these trends have been met by intimidation, suppression, and blatantly illegal firings, as recently confirmed by the National Labor Relations Board. Instead of listening to workers, Google hired IRI, a notorious anti-union firm, to suppress their organising. This is how Google's executives have chosen to interact with workers," the group's statement continued.

"The only tactic that has ensured workers are respected and heard is collective action."


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