Opinion | We’re Google Workers. And We’re Forming a Union. - The New York Times
To those who are skeptical of unions or believe that tech companies are more innovative without unions, we want to point out that these and other larger problems persist. Discrimination and harassment continue. Alphabet continues to crack down on those who dare to speak out, and keep workers from speaking on sensitive and publicly important topics, like antitrust and monopoly power. For a handful of wealthy executives, this discrimination and unethical working environment are working as intended, at the cost of workers with less institutional power, especially Black, brown, queer, trans, disabled, and female workers. Each time workers organize to demand change, Alphabet’s executives make token promises, doing the bare minimum in the hopes of placating workers.
It’s not enough. Today, we’re building on years of organizing efforts at Google to create a formal structure for workers. So far, 226 of us have signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America — the first step in winning a recognized bargaining unit under U.S. law. In other words, we are forming a union.
We are the workers who built Alphabet. We write code, clean offices, serve food, drive buses, test self-driving cars and do everything needed to keep this behemoth running. We joined Alphabet because we wanted to build technology that improves the world. Yet time and again, company leaders have put profits ahead of our concerns. We are joining together — temps, vendors, contractors, and full-time employees — to create a unified worker voice. We want Alphabet to be a company where workers have a meaningful say in decisions that affect us and the societies we live in.
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. When Google went public in 2004, it said it would be a company that “does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains.” Its motto used to be “Don’t be evil.”
We will live by that motto. Alphabet is a powerful company, responsible for vast swaths of the internet. It is used by billions of people across the world. It has a responsibility to prioritize the public good. It has a responsibility to its thousands of workers and billions of users to make the world a better place. As Alphabet workers, we can help build that world.
Parul Koul is the executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union. She is a software engineer who joined Google in 2019. Chewy Shaw is the vice chair of the Alphabet Workers Union. He is a site reliability engineer who has been at Google since 2011.