Google Union Express Dismay
The employee union of Google is in strife after hearing the news of the alliance with Global Alpha. The Google employee union covering staff across the US and Canada is completely baffled by the news.
Many employees of the union have revealed that they were not aware of the fact that their Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) had joined a newly formed Alpha Global coalition with workers around the world until this got announced on January 25th.
As per the release posted by Uni Global Union of Switzerland, the new alliance said: “A just Alphabet has wide-ranging implications for our democracies and societies. That is why we are joining together to demand fundamental human rights for all workers in Alphabet operations, including the right to form or join a union and the right to bargain collectively.”
The news got circulated by The Verge. The piece reported that a press statement for Alpha Global included a quote from ParulKoul, a software executive and engineer AWU council member, which she denied writing.
As per Verge, the union members have even called out an emergency meeting right after the announcement. The takeaways from the meeting included a statement from the AWU executive council member ParulKoul. She said the Uni announcement was a surprise and that AWU members were not “notified or given a heads up that this alliance was being formed or that this statement was going out.”
The news wasn’t a welcoming one for the Union members who expect the Alphabet Workers Unions to run democratically. After the news broke out, an AWU executive council member Auni Ahsan said, “We want to honor the concerns that have been raised, but our primary focus as a union isn’t affiliation or disaffiliation.”
AWU organizers are further planning to push the group to disaffiliate from the Communication Workers of America (CWA). Also, AWU has set up a committee to investigate the role of CWA in the announcement.
In recent times, the union has issued a press release regarding the company policy that also includes a statement on YouTube’s ‘lackluster’ response to the ‘spread of hatred and extremism’ before the capitol siege on January 6th. The union has managed to add around 600 new members as the numbers have grown from 200 to 800 since its formation. Also, Google has around 132,121 worldwide employees as per its recent quarterly report.
Some members have raised concerns over the rise in the union numbers. These members have claimed that the Communication Workers of America pushed the union to go public prematurely. They also stated that the CWA has a history of publishing big announcements without knowing the consent of Google workers.
Amr Gaber, a Google engineer who was instrumental in organizing the 2018 walkout, told the New York Times that the union is concerned with claiming turf rather than listening to the organizers’ needs.
The rapid expansion of the Alphabet union has also underlined the need for clear rules, including when the group carries out statements and who controls major announcements. As of now, AWU has called on YouTube to ban Donald Trump permanently. Also, AWU has expressed concerns over the treatment of Margaret Mitchell, the co-lead of the ethical AI team.
In 2019, Google fired one of its organizers Kathryn Spiers. During the emergency meeting (mentioned above in the post), Spiers was quite outspoken about her experience with CWA and said she wanted to acknowledge that the alliance announcement was not an isolated incident. She has now made up her mind to participate in a campaign to disaffiliate from the larger organization.
Time to wrap up:
For some workers who have been organizing with Google for a fairly long time, disaffiliation might be the last option. However, if somehow the campaign fails, the workers are likely to leave the organization.