Speed Reads

State of the Union

Google workers unionize, saying the company has 'put profits ahead of our concerns'

Hundreds of workers at Google's parent company Alphabet are forming a union.

More than 200 workers have launched the Alphabet Workers Union, which The New York Times reports was "organized in secret for the better part of a year and elected its leadership last month." It will be open to all Alphabet employees and contractors, the union said.

In an op-ed for the Times published Monday, the union's executive chair Parul Koul and vice chair Chewy Shaw, both of whom are Google software engineers, wrote that they "believe our company's structure needs to change" and that "company leaders have put profits ahead of our concerns."

"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," they write. "Each time workers organize to demand change, Alphabet’s executives make token promises, doing the bare minimum in the hopes of placating workers."

The op-ed notes Google employees have previously spoken out about their "experiences of harassment and discrimination at the company" and cites other concerns including "our retention issues with people of color" and a researcher who says "she was fired over her work to fight bias."

The union "won't have collective bargaining rights" since it's "not seeking ratification through a federal agency," The Washington Post reports. Still, Axios notes this is the "largest and most high-profile unionization effort among tech workers to date," and Shaw told the Times "we're going to use every tool that we can to use our collective action to protect people who we think are being discriminated against or retaliated against."

Google's director of people operations Kara Silverstein told the Times the company has "always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our work force," adding, "as we've always done, we'll continue engaging directly with all our employees."