Google, Alphabet employees to form union

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Google headquarters sprawls across a large campus in Mountain View, California.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

More than 200 employees at Google and other companies under Alphabet have signed on to form a new union that they say will push the tech giant to live up to its long-time motto: “Don’t be evil.” On Monday, workers at Google publicly announced the creation of the Alphabet Workers Union with support from the Communications Workers of America. The union will be open to full-time and contract employees at any Alphabet-owned company.

“We are the workers who built Alphabet. We write code, clean offices, serve food, drive buses, test self-driving cars and do everything needed to keep this behemoth running,” wrote Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, engineers at Google and chairs of the new Alphabet Workers Union, in an op-ed in The New York Times published on Monday. “We want Alphabet to be a company where workers have a meaningful say in decisions that affect us and the societies we live in.”

The union will have dues-paying members, an elected board of directors and paid organizing staff, according to a release. But the union reportedly isn’t seeking federal ratification through the National Labor Relations Board, which means it won’t have collective bargaining rights. 

Google on Monday said it has always worked to create a supportive workplace for employees. 

“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce,” said Kara Silverstein, director of People Operations at Google, in an emailed statement. “Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support.  But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

Alphabet, which has more than 120,000 full-time workers, and Google have faced waves of employee activism over the past few years. In their op-ed on Monday, Koul and Shaw raised worker concerns over the search giant’s work with “repressive governments around the world,” profits from “ads by a hate group,” and failing to address retention issues with people of color. They also highlighted Google’s dispute last month with artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru, who said she was abruptly fired over a research paper she co-authored that criticized the company’s AI systems. 

See also: Google One FAQ: Everything to know about the cloud storage subscription

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