In what is a major milestone, more than 400 Google engineers and other workers have formed a union. Called the Alphabet Workers Union, it is affiliated with the Communication Workers of America, which represents telecommunications and media workers in the US and Canada.
Of note – the workers have indicated it is primarily an effort to give structure and longevity to activism at Google, rather than focusing on contracts.
The union was planned in secret, and members will pay 1% of their salary in dues. It additionally will include contractors, which is considered unusual for a union.
Why do we care?
This is a big deal for the industry for two reasons. First, it’s a major tech company now moving towards a union. It’s been thought that tech workers wouldn’t want to unionize – well, that’s proven wrong. I’d offer that it’s not because of the traditional union reasons, like wages and employee condutions, and more about lack of transparency and a disconnect between company direction and the employees themselves.
Second, it’s a big deal because it does illustrate that good leaders need to look beyond the idea of just shareholders to stakeholders. In Europe, workers have seats on the board at many companies – and the result is closer alignment with company direction.
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