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  • Google workers just announced they're forming a union with the Communication Workers of America.

  • It's one of the first tech unions with both white collar workers and contractors in the United States.

  • This is a really big deal for the tech industry.

  • Unions are more often associated with firefighters and nurses and teachers, at least in the U.

  • S.

  • But after three years of walkouts and protests, Google workers want to force management to create riel change.

  • That's what the Alphabet workers union is all about.

  • Its goal is to make the union so big and powerful that Google leadership has to pay attention.

  • And this matters for Google workers who want to air their views without fear of retaliation.

  • And for companies like Facebook and Amazon, who could be next in line for organizer's.

  • This is just the latest move in a long running fight about the future of the tech industry.

  • To understand how we got here and why it matters, we have to look at the big picture.

  • Before 2017, Google had a very public image as one of the happiest companies in tech employees biked across its 26 acre campus in Mountain View, California popping from tennis courts to outdoor pools and enjoying free food and medical attention.

  • Google also had a culture of very active descent.

  • If employees didn't like something, they said it around 2011, When Google was launching Google Plus, executives decided to make users use their real names on the platform.

  • This didn't go over well with Google employees, who argued that it could put vulnerable users in danger.

  • It took a while, but eventually company management came around and decided to reverse the policy.

  • Employees like Kimberly Wilbur, a software engineer, joined Google in part because of this open culture.

  • Google has a long and storied tradition of employees who choose to speak up about something when they feel it's important.

  • You see your legends about like employees standing up during meetings and saying No, this this isn't right And I chose to come to Google because it felt like Google appreciated that sort of advocacy.

  • In 2017, this culture started to shift That summer, a Google engineer named James de More posted a 10 page letter arguing that women were less biologically suited to be coders.

  • He was fired from the company shortly after, but the incident became a huge source of harassment for employees, something Google management wasn't prepared to handle.

  • At the same time, Google employees were having really ethical quandaries about the projects they were working on.

  • Artificial intelligence drones, warfare and Google.

  • It's a mixture that caused an uproar inside the tech giant, where the early motto was Don't Be Evil.

  • In 2018, a whistleblower leaked internal information to gizmo toe about something called Project Maven, a system that would use a Google developed a I to help military drones identify targets from above.

  • Then another employee came forward with documents about a search engine called Dragon Fly that was built to comply with Chinese censorship rules.

  • For engineers who joined Google to build a better Internet, it was a jarring wake up call, and it led to thousands of employees signing letters to CEO Sundar Pichai, asking him to cancel both projects.

  • What's stated very explicitly in the AI principles is that Google commits to not design or deploy technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted, uh, international law or human rights concerns.

  • It's pretty clear that there hasn't been accountability so far, and that's part of why I'm resigning way structural change.

  • We're walking out Thio Support Women and Thio Protest with this company is handled sexual cases.

  • The breaking point came when news came out that Android founder Andy Rubin had left the company in a cloud of harassment allegations and received $90 million in severance.

  • The huge payout provoked outrage up and down the company and in a matter of days, organizer's put together one of the largest labor actions in tech history.

  • The Google walk out.

  • On November 1st 2018, 20,000 employees across more than 40 offices walked out of work in protest of the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations.

  • The walkout brought employees from around the world into the same space, and once they started talking, they realized they shared a lot of the same concerns.

  • But the protests also came with a really cost.

  • Google hired anti union consultants and started taking concrete steps to stop unions from forming.

  • In the months that followed, four walkout organizer's were abruptly fired.

  • A group that became known as the Thanksgiving for the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint alleging two of these firings were illegal.

  • There were a bunch of us at least in the New York City else's that sat down and we had, you know, lunches where we can talk candidly about the ethics.

  • What Google work phone.

  • We weren't the only ones that turns out who had been having these conversations.

  • A lot of folks in other campuses, like Cambridge, Seattle Mountain View, had also had these discussions.

  • And the real turning point was when all of us came together quite a while ago about a year ago and started talking about the possibility of the union.

  • In December 2020 the company abruptly fired AI ethicist to meet Hebrew.

  • Suddenly, the secret unionizing effort got a lot more support internally as employees realized that even prominent and well respected workers weren't safe.

  • So that's kind of how the Alphabet Workers union came about.

  • It's part of a realization from a lot of workers that Google has changed.

  • It's not necessarily a bad place to work, but it's no longer the open environment it used to be.

  • That's especially true for temps vendors and contract employees, or T.

  • V.

  • C s in Google lingo who get cut out of a lot of the perks of being a full time Google employees T.

  • V.

  • C s now outnumber full time workers at Google and the union could be a way for more secure workers to help advocate for their rights.

  • Ah, former Google employees Liz Fong Jones explains that including T V C workers is the key to success for the union.

  • What I think is really brilliant about the structure of the organization that is choosing Thio not specifically in to get a contract with the bargaining unit is there.

  • They have the flexibility to include contingent workers, and we know that contingent workers are number one, some of the most marginalized workers, that Aaron in the tech umbrella and secondly that they are, you know, majority majority of people of color right that a lot more of them are women, compared Thio compared to the Google engineering workforce, right?

  • I think that this effort is going to succeed.

  • Like most unions, the Alphabet Workers Union is interested in fighting for good wages and benefits, but it's not stopping there.

  • Organizers say they want to influence Google's overall strategy and give workers a say in what they work on.

  • It's also a sign of a bigger change in the tech world mark.

  • Generally, Kickstarter employees formed a union in 2020 and warehouse workers at Amazon have been trying to unionize for years.

  • There have even been organizing efforts on gig platforms like uber and insta cart, as the people who make a living on those APS push for a better deal.

  • When people think about tech companies, they tend to think about independent founders like Steve Jobs or Jeff Basis.

  • But these new unions want to change the narrative and make it about the people who work in Amazon's warehouses or drive ubers cars.

  • It's a whole new way to think about the tech industry.

  • And for Google, it could be a whole new way to think about running a company.

  • Google workers just announced they're forming a union.

  • Wow, If employees didn't like something, they said, it s so That's especially true for temps vendors and contract employees or TV.

  • Oh, okay.

  • Something just fell from the train, but it's okay.

  • It was just an acorn.

Google workers just announced they're forming a union with the Communication Workers of America.

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Why Google’s union is a big deal

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/07
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