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Google workers in 10 countries just formed a global union to keep Alphabet in check

Alpha Global also aims to achieve collecting bargaining power to strengthen the workplace rights of Google employees.

Google workers in 10 countries just formed a global union to keep Alphabet in check
[Photo: Rajeshwar Bachu/Unsplash; Pixabay]
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Just three weeks after hundreds of Google workers united to form the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) in the United States and Canada, Google’s parent company Alphabet now has a second alliance of united workers on its hands—only this one is much larger. As The Verge reports, Google workers from 10 countries across the globe have united to form the Alpha Global coalition.

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This coalition is made up of 13 unions spread across 10 countries including the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, Sweden, and Belgium.

Alpha Global shares some goals with its older brother AWU, whose aim focuses on activism—getting Google to change the ways it does some business that is ethically questionable. However, Alpha Global goes a step forward. While the new global union will seek to change ethically questionable operations and projects at Google, it also aims to achieve collecting bargaining power to strengthen the workplace rights of Google employees.

In a press release announcing the new union, Alpha Global acknowledged the many innovations Google has brought to the tech industry. But it says those technical innovations aren’t the only things Google has unleashed:

Unfortunately, Alphabet is also a creator of inequalities, implicated in sexual harassment and oppression of sexual minorities and people of colour.

It is a place where many workers came to change the world—to make it more democratic—only to find Alphabet suppressing speech and cracking down on worker organizing while consolidating monopolistic power.

Alpha Global goes on to highlight the ways worker action at Google has already forced the company to change, such as when the company abandoned its forced-arbitration mandate after internal pressure. However, Alpha Global says more change is needed both nationally and internationally. Some of the things it aims to force Google to address is the treatment of content moderators and mandated nondisclosure agreements.

As The Verge notes, Alpha Global has no current legal agreement with Google, so the tech giant is not bound to listen to any of the new union’s concerns. Yet that could change given the global reach of the new coalition—especially as Alpha Global attempts to find political allies in countries that are already deeply skeptical of some of Google’s business practices.

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“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace,” a Google spokesperson said when reached for comment. “We’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

This post has been updated with Google’s response. 

About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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