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Google employees form labour union in United States

Google employees form labour union in United States

Small toy figures are seen in front of Google logo in this illustration picture, Apr 8, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

OAKLAND, California: More than 200 employees and contractors at Google parent Alphabet in the United States and Canada have formed a labour union to promote workplace equity and ethical business practices, the group's elected leaders said on Monday (Jan 4).

The "Alphabet Workers Union" will collect dues of 1 per cent of total compensation from members, according to its website. The funds will cover paid organisers, events, legal support and wages for members in the event of a labour strike.

The group's formation builds on unprecedented protests by Google workers in recent years. While the tech industry has seen minimal union activity and worker pushback historically, thousands of people at Alphabet had banded together to publicly criticise Google's handling of sexual harassment complaints, its work with the US military and other issues.

Unlike many budding unions, the newly formed group does not expect to collective bargain with Alphabet over pay and working conditions any time soon. Instead, it aims to create a more formal structure to organise future protests.

"Our union will work to ensure that workers know what they’re working on, and can do their work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination," Google engineers Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw wrote in a New York Times opinion piece on Monday announcing the union.

Koul is the executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, and Shaw vice chair.

Kara Silverstein, director of people operations at Google, said on Monday, "Our employees have protected labour rights that we support. But as we've always done, we'll continue engaging directly with all our employees."

Google has been under fire from the US labour regulator, which has accused the company of unlawfully questioning several workers who were then terminated for protesting company policies and trying to organise a union. Google has said it was confident it acted legally.

Alphabet Workers Union members will be part of the Communications Workers of America Local 1400, which also includes employees from Verizon Communications and AT&T. 

Source: Reuters/kv/ec


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