Belabored: Going Union at Google

Belabored: Going Union at Google

Alphabet Workers Union member Alex Hanna talks about Google’s labor politics, how a minority union can mobilize through direct action, and the future of organizing in the tech industry. 

Google employees walk off the job to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct claims, on November 1, 2018 (Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

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In recent days, Big Tech has been at the center of many disturbing controversies, from social media pandemic disinformation to the president stoking insurrection on Twitter. But in this episode, we’re focusing on a rare good news story coming out of Silicon Valley: Google workers have unionized! The Alphabet Workers Union has been long in the making, organized with the support of Communications Workers of America in the midst of many conflicts at the company over not just labor issues, but also institutionalized racism, gender discrimination, and ethical debates about artificial intelligence and the social influence of algorithms. For our 213th episode, Google sociologist and AWU member Alex Hanna joined us to talk about Google’s labor politics, how a minority union can mobilize through direct action, and the future of organizing in the tech industry. 

In other news, we look at a pandemic uprising by teachers in Britain with London teacher James Kerr, delivery workers organizing across New York City with Gustavo Ajche of Los Deliveristas Unidos, new research on how paid leave has helped flatten the curve with Nicholas Ziebarth, and job losses in the wake of California’s corporate-sponsored gig worker law. With recommended reading on a card check breakthrough for New Mexico’s public employees, and how worker ownership could transform post-pandemic livelihoods.

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COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave Has Helped Flatten The Curve In The United States (Health Affairs)

Teachers’ Unions Won Big This Week. They’re Just Getting Started (Novara)

National Education Union 

NYC Food Delivery Workers Band to Demand Better Treatment. Will New York Listen to Los Deliveristas Unidos? (The City)

Worker’s Justice Project – Proyecto Justicia Laboral

Vons, Pavilions to Fire “Essential Workers,” Replace Drivers with Independent Contractors (KNOCK.LA)

Albertsons ditches in-house delivery in some areas, pivots to contractors after Prop 22 (Business Insider)


Alex Hanna, member of Alphabet Workers Union

Google’s New Union Will Put an Unconventional Organizing Model to the Test (Jacobin)

Google Workers Say the Endless Wait to Unionize Big Tech Is Over (In These Times)

Google’s new union shows tech worker activism is getting organized (Vox)

Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Sarah: C.M. Lewis, The Stunning Workers’ Victory in New Mexico That You Haven’t Heard About  (In These Times)

Michelle: Osita Nwanevu, The Case for Giving Workers Ownership Rights (The New Republic) (For more on this subject, see Belabored Podcast #182: (Slowly) Seizing the Means of Production)