A group of Google Fiber subcontractors in Missouri has decided to unionize, marking the first time that Google’s parent firm Alphabet has done so. In a Zoom meeting with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, the ballots were tallied (NLRB).
The personnel are employed by Kansas City-based employment firm BDS Connected Solutions, a Google contractor. In January, ten of the eleven workers signed union cards to join the Alphabet Workers Organization (AWU), which is part of the broader Communication Workers of America union. The official count on Friday revealed that nine people voted in favor of joining the union, while one voted against it.
Rather of going via the NLRB to have a vote to convince a majority of employees to sign on, the AWU will be a members-only union, representing only those workers who join freely. The workers wanted Google parent firm Alphabet and BDS to be named as joint employers in their NLRB petition at first, but then amended it to just include BDS. Because of the structure, AWU will be able to represent any Alphabet employees who wish to participate, including contractors, suppliers, and temps, who would normally be excluded from traditional collective bargaining under US labor law.
Contractors for Google have long claimed that they are not treated similarly to full-time workers, despite the fact that they make up the bulk of the company’s workforce. In Pittsburgh, roughly 80 Google contractors decided to join the United Steelworkers union in 2019.
“Many attempts were made during our campaign to dissuade us from expressing our right to a collective voice on the job. “However, it was always evident to all of us that by working together, we can positively alter our working circumstances to guarantee that we all have access to the great wages, benefits, and protections we have earned,” said Eris Derickson, a retail associate with BDS Connected Solutions and Google Fiber. “Sitting at the bargaining table with BDS Connected Solutions to create a new standard for our workplace to improve both worker, customer, and corporate experience,” the union said it is looking forward to.
In an email to The Verge, Google spokesperson Angie Welling said the business had “multiple contracts with both unionized and non-union vendors, and respects their employees’ choice to join or not join a union.” It is up to the workers and their employer, BDS Solutions Group, to decide whether or not to join the Communications Workers of America.”