Google workers announce global union alliance

Google workers announce global union alliance
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Google workers are forming a global union alliance in an effort to hold the tech giant accountable, the group announced Monday. 

Alpha Global, named in recognition of Google’s parent company Alphabet, includes members from 10 countries including the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the U.K. 

It follows growing labor pressure on the tech giant and was unveiled just weeks after more than 200 Google employees in the U.S. announced the creation of the Alphabet Workers Union. The union has since grown to more than 700 members. 

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Alpha Global was formed in coordination with UNI Global Union, a global union federation that brings together 20 million workers across sectors in the service economy.

“[Google] is a place where many workers came to change the world—to make it more democratic—only to find Google suppressing speech and cracking down on worker organizing while consolidating monopolistic power,” the Alpha Global alliance said in a joint statement 

The union alliance said it aims to create a common strategy to help reach each other’s demand and collective goals, and work to build local organizations that reflect the “value and interests of the employees." The union alliance also said it aims to fight for the rights of direct Alphabet employees, as well as temporary, vendor and contract workers. 

“The problems at Alphabet—and created by Alphabet—are not limited to any one country, and must be addressed on a global level,” Christy Hoffman, UNI’s General Secretary, said in a statement. “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.”

The creation of the union alliance was first reported by The Verge.

Google defended its work environment in response to the accusations leveled by the Alpha Global alliance.

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“We've always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace. We'll continue engaging directly with all our employees," Google spokesperson Kara Silverstein said in a statement.

The announcement comes as Google has increasingly come under fire over its handling of employees. 

The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Google in December alleging the company illegally spied on and then fired two employees for organizing. 

Around the same time, top artificial intelligence (AI) researcher Timnit Gebru claimed she was fired after voicing concerns about the handling of a report on AI bias. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition protesting Gebru’s departure. 

Google pushed back on Gebru’s claims, with the head of research stating the company had accepted Gebru’s resignation, but CEO Sundar Pichai later said the company would review the process that led to Gebru’s dismissal.

--Updated at 11:46 a.m.