Employees at Google and other units of parent firm Alphabet announced the
formation of a union on Monday, sowing the seeds of activism in Silicon Valley
giants, AFP reported.
The Alphabet Workers Union, affiliated with the Communications Workers
of America, seeks to represent well-compensated tech workers as well as temporary
workers and contractors.
The new union will address issues related to pay and benefits, as well
as ethical decisions taken by tech giants and protection from arbitrary firings for
“We hope to create a democratic process for workers to wield
decision-making power; promote social, economic, and environmental justice; and
end the unfair disparities between TVCs (temporary, vendors and contractors)
and FTEs (full time employees),” the union’s website said.
The union had gained 200 members as of the end of December.
Though large tech giants have offered generous compensation to software
engineers and other skilled workers, they have largely stayed away from labour
drives despite facing growing unrest over workplace issues.
One of the catalysts at Google was the recent firing of Timnit Gebru, a
Black artificial intelligence ethics researcher and outspoken diversity
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The company also faced a backlash from employees over its involvement
with a Pentagon project known as Project Maven, which Google eventually ended.
“This union builds upon years of courageous organizing by Google
workers,” said Nicki Anselmo, a Google program manager and union member.
“From… 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,” she said.