There are more than 400 workers at Google and its parent company, Alphabet, who, after years of protests, have signed up to form a new union: it is called the “Alphabet Workers Union”. A rare breakthrough in Silicon Valley and the tech sector, which historically has been resistant to organizing more formalized work.
The group, which will have dues-paying members, complete with an elected board of directors and paid organizational staff, would not be seeking federal ratification through the National Labor Relations Board, which means that, for now, it will have no bargaining rights. collective.
However, it remains an important move.
The union’s announcement was praised by some progressive Democrats. “When big companies like Google have too much power, it’s bad for innovation, bad for consumers and bad for their workers,” the senator tweeted. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, “I stand in solidarity with Google workers as they battle with their union.”
Even the senator Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, applauded at the news: “What these workers are fighting for is nothing radical,” he tweeted. “They want fair wages and a job free of abuse, retaliation, intimidation and discrimination. And this is exactly what they deserve ».
Although the creation of a union is very unusual for the technology industry, the time was ripe: “The union is a necessary tool for workers to have strength within the company. Our objectives ”he explained to New York Times Chewy Shaw, a Google engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area, “go beyond the usual workplace issues, such as wages. Our problems are getting much wider. It is a time when a trade union is an answer to these problems ». There is talk of diversity, pay discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation against the most activist workers.
It was therefore time to structure the protests. The one against the Maven project, which involved the use of Google’s Artificial Intelligence to improve targeted drone attacks, had already caused a sensation in 2018. A project that aroused protests among employees (protested in 20 thousand) who considered the work unethical, so much so that the company did not renew the contract with the Pentagon. Very recent then the controversial dismissal of Timnit Gebru, the scientist expelled from Google after having denounced the racism of her algorithms against African Americans, women and minorities.
The Alphabet Workers Union will have work to do.