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This May Have Started Something: The Google Union Just Passed 700 Members

Published Tuesday, January 12, 2021
by Zoe Schiffer/
This May Have Started Something: The Google Union Just Passed 700 Members

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) passed 700 members on Monday (January 11th), growing from roughly 230 at launch on January 4th.

The group, which is open to Employees and Contractors at Google’s parent company, includes Workers from 35 offices across the United States and Canada.

The AWU organized in secret for almost a year before going public with an Op-Ed in The New York Times last week. 

The news prompted an outpouring of support from Tech Workers in Silicon Valley.

“We were ‘excited to see the response’ of the public and Employees,” says Alan Morales, a Google Engineer. “Now we’re ‘welcoming all of our new Members and hearing their motivations for joining.’”

As a Minority Union, AWU can’t force Google management to come to the table to negotiate, but it can try to pressure executives by rallying Members toward a cause.

And that’s exactly what happened last week when the AWU called on YouTube to permanently ban Republican President Donald Trump in the wake of an insurgent raid on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6th.

“YouTube refuses to hold Donald Trump accountable to the platform’s own rules by choosing only to remove one video instead of removing him from the platform entirely,” they wrote.

The company “is avoiding the proactive action called for by both their Workers and the broader public,” they wrote.

The Union categorized the letter as a public statement.

So far, it hasn’t put out a list of demands, as it wants to hear from new Members before settling on major initiatives.

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former Labor Organizer, tells The Verge that AWU’s Minority Union structure could provide a template for Workers at other tech companies.

“I’m ‘excited that it’s a little bit different,’” she says. “One of the challenges we’ve faced in organizing the Tech Sector ‘is that it might not be achievable in the standard National Labor Relations Board format.’”

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