Alphabet Workers Union

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Alphabet Workers Union
FoundedJanuary 4, 2021; 2 years ago (2021-01-04)
1,200 (Oct. 2022)
AffiliationsCampaign to Organize Digital Employees,
CWA Local 9009

Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), also informally referred to as the Google Union,[1][2][3] is an American trade union of workers employed at Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, with a membership of over 800, in a company with 130,000 employees, not including temps, contractors, and vendors in the United States.[4][2] It was announced on January 4, 2021 with an initial membership of over 400,[5] after over a year of secret organizing, and the union includes all types of workers at Alphabet, including full-time, temporary, vendors and contractors of all job types.

It has been called a minority union and a solidarity union,[6] and is not registered with the National Labor Relations Board, and generally cannot engage in collective bargaining.[7][2][8] In March, 2022 subcontractors of Google Fiber became the first within the AWU to gain NLRB recognition.

AWU is part of the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, an effort to organize unions at tech companies. Initially it was part of CWA Local 1400, until it became its own standalone Local 9009 in May 2023.[9]


On 4 February 2021, union members expressed support of data center workers, including Shannon Wait, employed through contractors, who were demanding the right to drink water at work and discussing wages and other working conditions. Subsequently Wait was suspended by the company for her pro-union activities, which AWU protested against through a legal charge.[10] On 10 February, the union announced Wait was re-admitted to work after pressure from the union.[11]


Members have stated that their union fights to improve workers' wages; fights against abuse, retaliation and discrimination; and advocates on behalf of disadvantaged workers at Google such as contractors.[7][12] It also fights to stop sexual harassment in the workplace[13] and aims to stop Google from allowing its social media platforms such as YouTube to function as a hub for right-wing extremism and white supremacy.[2]

Union members have argued that Alphabet has the ability to act in a wrongful manner for the sake of profit, and that forming a union allows workers to improve the world through pressuring the company to drop its bad practices and ensure tech labor is used for good purposes. Union members have also asserted that the company has retaliated against workers for speaking out, and that unionization allows workers to have a say in how certain company matters are run. The union itself serves as a mechanism for workers to speak safely, granting protection via collective strength and solidarity.[14]

Union recognition[edit]

The Alphabet Workers Union as a whole does not have recognition by the National Labor Relations Board. This is both due to difficulty of formally organizing a large company and also the different tiers of employment contracts.[7] In March 2022, subcontractors of Google Fiber became the first within the AWU to gain NLRB recognition.[15]

A ruling in March 2023 by the NLRB regarding the liability of Google in joint-employment relations would mean that Google could be directly held liable for treatment of their sub-contracted companies. In April 2023, 40 employees of a Youtube subcontractor voted to form the Youtube Music Union. This means that Google would have to negotiate with them, even though they are directly employed by Cognizant.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schiffer, Zoe (2021-01-25). "Exclusive: Google workers across the globe announce international union alliance to hold Alphabet accountable". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  2. ^ a b c d Marshall, Aarian (2021-01-12). "Google's New Union Is Already Addressing Political Issues". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. The AWU is somewhat unusual in that it is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America but won't seek recognition or collective bargaining rights through the National Labor Relations Board. "We will use our reclaimed power to control what we work on and how it is used," AWU writes in its mission statement. "We will ensure Alphabet acts ethically and in the best interests of society and the environment." The group says it now has more than 700 dues-paying members. But that's still a tiny percentage of Alphabet's 130,000 employees—and an even smaller share of the company's total workforce, including temporary workers, contractors, and vendors. The union is unusual in another respect, because it welcomes contractors and temporary workers.
  3. ^ "New Google Union Triples in Size in First Week, But Faces Formidable Challenges". KQED. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  4. ^ Schiffer, Zoe (2021-01-11). "The Google union just passed 700 members". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  5. ^ Conger, Kate (2021-01-04). "Hundreds of Google Employees Unionize, Culminating Years of Activism". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  6. ^ Hahne, Bruce. "Google workers launch a solidarity union".
  7. ^ a b c "More than 200 US Google employees form a workers' union". the Guardian. 2021-01-04. Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  8. ^ Tiku, Nitasha. "Google workers launch unconventional union with help of Communications Workers of America - The Alphabet Workers Union will push for change without traditional collective bargaining rights". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  9. ^ @AlphabetWorkers (May 1, 2023). "NEW LOCAL, NEW LOGO! Alphabet Workers. Union-CWA is becoming its own union local within @CWAUnion: CWA Local 9009. After spending time incubating our union with @CWALocal1400 we are moving our virtual HQ from New Hampshire to Mountain View, CA" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ "Alphabet Workers Union files labor complaint against Google data center contractor". Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  11. ^ "Human Capital: Doing away with the NDA". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  12. ^ "Google, Alphabet employees unionize". Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  13. ^ "Google workers form new labor union, a tech industry rarity". ABC News. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  14. ^ "Google Workers Speak Out About Why They Formed A Union: 'To Protect Ourselves'". Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  15. ^ Lyons, Kim (2022-03-25). "Google Fiber contractors vote to join union". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-09-20.
  16. ^ Silberling, Amanda (2023-04-26). "YouTube Music contractors win historic union vote". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2023-09-20.

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