A group of employees of a Google Fiber subcontractor in Missouri have voted to form a union, the first of its kind at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The votes were tallied Friday in a Zoom hearing with the National Council for Labor Relations (NLRB).
The workers are employees of Google contractor BDS Connected Solutions, a Kansas City staffing agency. Ten of the 11 workers signed union cards in January to organize themselves under the purview of the Alphabet Workers Union (AHU), which is part of the larger Communication Workers of America union. On Friday, the official count showed that there were nine votes in favor of joining the union, with one against.
The AHU becomes a members-only union, which represents the employees who join voluntarily, rather than going through the NLRB voting to convince a majority of employees to sign up. The workers originally wanted to list Google parent company Alphabet and BDS as joint employers in their petition to the NLRB, but later changed the request to include only BDS. The structuring will let AGU represents all employees of Alphabet who wish to participate, including contractors, vendors and temps, who would not normally be included in traditional collective bargaining under current U.S. labor law.
Even though they form a majority of its staffGoogle contractors have long complained that they are not treated equally to the company’s full-time employees. In 2019, about 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh voted to join the United Steelworkers union.
“Our campaign faced many attempts to discourage us from exercising our right to a collective voice at work. Yet it has always been clear to all of us that together we can positively shape our working conditions to ensure we all have access to the high-quality pay, benefits and protection we deserve,” Eris Derickson, a retail associate at BDS Connected Solutions and Google Fiber, said in a statement. The union looks forward “to sitting at the negotiating table with BDS Connected Solutions to set a new standard for our workplace to improve both the employee, customer and business experience.”
Google spokesperson Angie Welling said in an emailed statement: The edge that the company “has many contracts with both affiliated and non-union suppliers, and respects the right of their employees to choose whether to join a union. The decision of these contractors to join the Communications Workers of America is a matter between the employees and their employer, BDS Solutions Group.”
BDS did not respond to a request for comment Friday.