Hundreds of employees at Google and its parent, Alphabet (GOOGL), have launched a union, a rare step for the tech industry that also represents the biggest and most organized challenge yet to the company's executive leadership.
Announced Monday morning, the Alphabet Workers' Union will be run by employees and open both to full-time workers and contractors at the tech giant.
"This is historic," said Dylan Baker, a Google software engineer, in a release. "The first union at a major tech company by and for all tech workers. We will elect representatives, we will make decisions democratically, we will pay dues, and we will hire skilled organizers to ensure all workers at Google know they can work with us if they actually want to see their company reflect their values."
"The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts, to employee classification, to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” the group said. The union will also collect dues from members; elect a board of directors; operate with the help of paid staff.
"We've always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce," shares, Kara Silverstein, Google's director of people operations, in a statement to CNN Business. "Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we've always done, we'll continue engaging directly with all our employees."
The union's formation comes after years of rising employee tensions at Google over the company's business and operational decisions, including its work with the defense sector, plans for a censored search engine in China, and the company's handling of sexual misconduct claims, the last of which resulted in a massive employee protest. The union's demands hit on many of those issues.