According to the latest news, Google workers across the world are coming together to form a global union alliance, Alpha Global. The newly formed coalition is comprised of 13 different unions representing workers from 10 countries including countries like United States, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. Interestingly, the announcement comes weeks after workers in the US and Canada launched the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a minority union affiliated with the Communications Workers of America. AWU grew from 230 members to more than 700 within a week after it launched. As per reports, Alpha Global is affiliated with the UNI Global Union, a federation of labour unions that represents 20 million people worldwide. UNI Global Union also includes Amazon workers.
Parul Koul, executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union and a Google software engineer said in a statement, “We know that organizing for justice at a global company like Alphabet does not stop at national boundaries. That is why it is so important to unite with workers in other countries. In a world where inequality is tearing apart, our societies and corporations are hoarding more influence than ever, reclaiming our power through our unions has never been more important.”
The best part of AWU is its structure. Its structure allows it to include Google contractors as well as full-time employees. However, it should be noted that still now, AWU is not recognized by the National Labor Relations Board which means it can’t force Google management to negotiate.
Alpha Global aims at gaining more power by uniting Google workers worldwide. Initially, the coalition won’t have a legally binding agreement with Google, but down the road, it may try to pressure Google to sign a neutrality agreement. Note that signing a neutrality agreement might not be necessary for Alpha Global to force a change because, in the last year, UNI Global Union helped to organize the Make Amazon Pay campaign. Make Amazon Pay campaign lead to an international Black Friday strike and it garnered support from more than 400 lawmakers. Note that the federation does not have a legal agreement with Amazon but still it works efficiently by uniting workers across the globe.
UNI general secretary Christy Hoffman said “The problems at Alphabet — and created by Alphabet — are not limited to any one country, and must be addressed on a global level. The movement launched by tech workers at Google and beyond is inspiring. They are using their collective muscle to not only transform their conditions of employment but also to address social issues caused by increasing concentration of corporate power.”
Alpha Global organizers pointed out that they have planned to tackle national issues like the treatment of content moderators in certain countries and international issues like workers being forced to sign nondisclosure agreements. As of now, the ten countries are the United States, Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Belgium.
Fionnuala Ní Bhrógáin, an organizer with the Communications Workers’ Union in Ireland said “The power of these global tech companies is such that they’re in every part of our lives. If they’re acting in this way nearly entirely unchecked by governments then there is no hold on what they can do. That power needs to be checked, and it’s only through collective action that workers are able to do that.”