Auni Ahsan, software engineer at Google, spoke with strong conviction when describing how Google employees have been unionizing when he talked with Search & Performance Marketing Daily on Monday.
“When it comes to the legal recognition process in America, it takes 70% of workers to agree to an election, but we recognize that’s not possible at Alphabet, because how do you get 70% of a 100,000-person workforce without the boss finding out?” Ahsan said. “Very often in union campaigns there’s a legal retaliation that occurs.”
The legal process would not allow Google employees to include contract workers, who contribute to a little more than the entire workers count at the company, Ahsan said, “so we went back to the basics of unionism.” There are about 260,000 full-time employees and contractors, of which 132,121 are actual employees.
“Unions are two or more workers working together to make each other’s lives better,” Ahsan said. “We don’t need a majority, approval, or recognition from Google, our bosses, or the government. We have a union because we say we do, which allows us to make a real change at the company.”
When asked whether Alphabet Workers Union has seen pushback from higher-ups at Google such as CEO Sundar Pichai, or co-founders Larry Page or Sergey Brin, Ahsan said, “I don’t think they had any idea until today, so as for pushbacks, we will find out.”
The hope is that Alphabet will respect the employees’ legal right to organize a union. Unionization began in earnest in December 2019, after Google retaliated against workers during Thanksgiving of that year.
Those involved, called the "Thanksgiving Four," had their contracts terminated.
Staff were told that the firings were related to data security and employee safety, but those who lost their jobs said they were punished for speaking out, which is a common practice in these circumstances.
Unlike many other sectors, such as the sheriff’s departments across the U.S., it’s not mandatory to join, Ahsan said. Dues are 1% of the worker's total compensation, including bonuses and equity. The dues are not directly taken from their paycheck, but rather those who wish to join sign up and register for the transfer of funds.
Google workers unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400, which represents workers in California, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Legal and organizational guidance is provided through CWA in the event of arbitration.
The new union is open to all employees -- temporary or full time -- and contractors and vendors at Google. The goal is to “protect” Alphabet workers struggling with issues such as pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.