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  • Google Employees and Other Alphabet Units Form a Union
Published 4 January 2021
Opinion

The new labor group focuses not only on wages and benefits like most unions, but also aims to play a role in the tech giant's ethical decisions and protection against arbitrary firings for activism.

Employees of U.S. tech company Google and other units of its parent company Alphabet announced Monday the creation of a union, intensifying a period of activism targeting the Silicon Valley giants.

According to a statement, the Alphabet Workers Union, affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, aims to represent well-paid workers in the tech sector and temporary employees and contractors.

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The new labor group focuses not only on wages and benefits like most unions but also aims to play a role in the tech giant's ethical decisions and protection against arbitrary firings for activism.

"We hope to create a democratic process for workers to wield decision-making power; promote social, economic, and environmental justice; and end the unfair disparities between TVCs (temporary, vendors and contractors) and FTEs (full-time employees)," the union's website said.

By the end of December, the union had about 200 members.

Big tech companies, which offer generous compensation to software engineers and other skilled workers, have largely avoided union boosts from their workforces, though they have faced growing unrest over workplace problems in the last few years.

At Amazon, which has tens of thousands of workers in its warehouses, campaigns have focused on working conditions and safety during the pandemic.

One of the catalysts at Google was the recent firing of Timnit Gebru, a black artificial intelligence ethics researcher and outspoken diversity activist. The company also faced a backlash from employees for its involvement in a Pentagon project known as Project Maven, which Google eventually concluded.

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