Google employees have formed another union, this one international
“Alphabet has long lost its commitment of ‘Don’t be evil,’ but we haven’t.”
Alpha Global, in its announcement
Just weeks after the formation of the company’s first-ever union, Google employees have formed another international union, called Alpha Global. The Verge reports that Alpha Global currently has members from workers in 10 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland.
“We want to see a world in which Alphabet respects human and labour rights across its global operations and supply chain,” the union’s announcement reads. “This goal has never been more important than right now.”
Alpha Global is made possible in part by efforts of the UNI Global Union, an international organization that represents more than 20 million people worldwide. UNI is based in Switzerland and works with a variety of industries, including those working in cleaning, private security, insurance, and tourism, amongst others.
Alpha Global is a minority union, which means it’ll fight an uphill battle in finding solidarity amongst disparate Alphabet workers. Even now, with the majority of its work ahead, the union's creation is something of a miracle.
Small but mighty — As of its creation, the vast majority of Alphabet workers are not members of Alpha Global. Only a small percentage of the company’s enormous employee pool has signed on with the union. Because Alpha Global does not have majority representation in Alphabet’s ranks, the union won’t technically have any legal bargaining power with Google just yet. But that may change, as more workers learn about Alpha Global’s cause and join up. Eventually the union could work on a neutrality agreement with Google.
Alpha Global wants to work on issues facing workers across the spectrum of Alphabet’s industries, like the treatment of content moderators in some countries, and the forced signing of nondisclosure agreements, among other concerns.
Joining the fight — The tech industry is notoriously unfriendly to unionization — so much so that entire industries exist around the busting of unionization efforts.
The tide seems to finally be changing in favor of unionization — to an extent. Amazon workers are working toward a union vote, despite the company’s efforts to oust them. The Google Workers Union, too, paves the way for union representation in the tech industry. Still, union-busting abounds with alarming frequency. Just last week, Instacart announced it would be firing every worker who voted for unionization.
Unionization is never easy — particularly in an industry like tech, where the odds are very much stacked against worker representation. So it’s all the more exciting when workers from a company as all-encompassing as Alphabet manage to do so.