The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) claimed a significant victory this week as part of a settlement involving Google and its parent company.
As a Bloomberg report explains, the recently formed union put together one of the first legal complaints against Google, representing hundreds of permanent employees and contract workers at the company. One of the crucial elements within the settlement now means that Google employees and contractors will not be silenced when it comes to talking abut their pay.
“WE WILL NOT tell you that you cannot discuss policies with other employees,” states the notice to staff. “WE WILL NOT discipline you because you exercise your right to discuss wage rates, bonuses, hours and working conditions with other employees,” it adds.
This settlement stems from a labour dispute that was brought about in February, specifically involving the company’s data centre in South Carolina in the US. At the data centre, it was alleged that management forbid staff from discussed wages amongst one another, even going so far as to suspend a data centre technician for doing so.
The technician in this case was Shannon Wait, who wrote about her suspension on Facebook. Once reinstated, she left the position at Google.
Wait also highlighted the fact that the Alphabet Workers Union assisted in getting her job back, as the pressure it exerted on Google played a pivotal role, which is something should would have been able to do on her own.
4.) The external pressure of our #union, which is only 3 months public, held both Google and its subcontractor accountable for violating labor law. It's 2021 – the year that tech companies like #Amazon and #Google stand face-to-face with workers (like @BAmazonUnion )
— Shannon Wait (@ComradeShannon) March 31, 2021
It remains to be seen how many labour disputes the AWU will bring forth in the coming weeks and months, but this first settlement is an important step, not just for those working at Google, but other big tech firms across the globe.
We have already seen how Amazon is reacting to criticism and pressure over its treatment of workers at its warehouses. Hopefully a similarly significant win can happen for those unionised workers too.