A group of Google workers have announced plans to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The Alphabet Workers Union will be open to all employees and contractors at Google’s parent company. Its goal will be to tackle ongoing issues like pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.
From a related CWA press release.
Google began as a small tech company with a “Don’t Be Evil” mantra, but has quickly become one of the most influential companies in the world. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now has more than 120,000 workers. Yet half of Google workers at Alphabet companies are hired as TVCs—temps, vendors, or contractors—without the benefits afforded to full-time employees. Executives have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in exit packages after documented sexual harassment against fellow Googlers. And the company has taken on unethical government contracts, like drone targeting for the military, yet kept the nature of that technology secret even to the Googlers working on those projects. It has removed its past motto from its mission statement.
It’s a shame that companies tend to turn into what they started with the intent to avoid. And it doesn’t take 120,000 people for that change to happen. I’ve witnessed this first hand at companies that doubled in size too quickly (20 to 40 and again 500 to 1000). As revenues rise and more money is at stake, the culture starts to take body blows—Especially if investment money is on the line. It is a shame Google no longer lives up to its original intent. It just goes to show how difficult it is to stay the same as the company grows.
Based on my own employment experience with unions and after watching too many mob movies, I’m always leary of a union’s honest intent. But If the workers want to unionize because Google’s leadership isn’t responsive to their perspective—then (and not that it matters), I support their move. We spend too much time working as it is; there’s no need to make it worse with repressive culture. I hope forming the AWU brings about positive changes the members seek and that other groups who also need change might find their leadership more receptive and supportive.➵