Sundar Pichai

Summary List Placement

In November 2019, Google fired four employees who were accused of breaching security and sharing confidential documents. The “Thanksgiving Four” – named for the timing of their ousting – had been involved in various protests at the company, including one over contracts with US Customs and Border Protection.

The “Four” argued that Google’s actions were a retaliation.

The dismissals came after months of rising tensions between top brass and rank-and-file employees inside Alphabet, the parent company of Google – and ultimately mobilized some workers to put together a more drastic counteroffensive.

More than 13 months later, nearly 230 employees have just signed onto a newly formed Alphabet Workers Union, supported by the Communications Workers of America. It’s a non-traditional “minority union,” which means it won’t have immediate bargaining powers with management and isn’t recognized by the National Labor Relations Board.

But the fledgling alliance is open to both full-time employees and Google’s vast workforce of 130,000 contractors and temp workers. The union also will accept employees from other Alphabet divisions like Verily and Waymo. By Friday, the union’s membership had nearly tripled to 619 workers, according to a representative.

The AWU wants to tackle issues across a wide spectrum, from protecting employees from retaliation, to ethically dubious company contracts. It’s the first white-collar union at one of the largest companies in tech, a sector that has traditionally been unfriendly, to say the least, to unionizing.

And while Google employees have some of the best salaries and benefits in Silicon Valley, they’re also known for being the particularly outspoken. Google’s unofficial motto in its early days was  “Don’t be evil,” but in recent years some employees believe that this responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of workers, but not leadership.

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Employees have protested the company’s work in China and contracts with the Pentagon, but until now they’ve lacked any sort of formal vehicle for action – something the AWU hopes to be.

“Organizing has been a part of Google’s culture among employees for a very long time,” Parul Koul, executive chair of the AWU, told Business Insider.

“But those particular acts were the catalysts for many organizers to think, ‘What can we do to keep this fight up for the long term?'”

Here’s how Google spun into a culture of mistrust and how it led to the forming of the Alphabet Workers Union, according to conversations with multiple current and former employees, union organizers, and reporting from Business Insider, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and other outlets.

Googlers say management has clamped down on worker dissent and political discussions

Tensions between employees and Google management had been building for several years, but things boiled over in 2018, when The New York Times revealed Android creator Andy Rubin had been given a $90 million exit package after he was dismissed from the company amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Approximately 20,000 employees staged a walkout in protest, marking the largest-ever coordinated demonstration by Googlers. It also seemed to mark an inflection point for Google management, too: employees say the company has since …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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