Google Fiber employees successfully merge in Kansas City

During a vote count with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) this afternoon, Google Fiber customer service reps – employed by human resources agency BDS Connected Solutions, contracted by Alphabet – were voted 9-1 to form a union. They will be represented by the Alphabet worker Union, an affiliate of the American Communications Workers (AWU-CWA.)

Workers at the store that operate out of Kansas City, Missouri, said Engadget in January that they felt left out of important workplace conversations, particularly about safety and staffing issues. Kansas City is market where Google Fiber first launched, about a decade ago. Workers at this store immediately skipped asking the NLRB for union recognition because, for unknown reasons, the majority of union card signers seemed to be ignored by Google and BDS. At the time, Emrys Adair, a worker at the site, said, “No confirmation, no response. No response yet.” Since then, no company has responded to Engadget’s request for comment.

Of the votes cast, nine were in favor while one was against; an additional ballot was challenged, but the number of challenged votes was not sufficient to change the outcome of the election.

“Our campaign encountered many attempts to prevent us from exercising our right to a collective voice in our work. However, 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 quality wages, benefits and the protection we earn,” said Eris Derickson, one of the retail associates at the location, in a statement today. sat down at the negotiating table with BDS Connectivity Solutions to set a new standard for our workplace to improve the experience for both employees, customers and the company.”

The Alphabet Workers Union sees this not just as a win for this particular store, but as part of a broader campaign to level the playing field between Alphabet’s full-time employees and larger and regulated TVCs. reporting is inferior to its own (temporary, suppliers and contractors, in Google parlance.) “Since our inception, we have been committed to addressing Alphabet’s two-tier, segregated employment system. . Alphabet wants to maintain a reputation for treating workers well but doesn’t want to pay the price. Instead, the trillion-dollar corporation relies on temporary employees, contracts, and suppliers to provide the work needed by the company without the same pay, benefits, or rights as full-time employees. time,” wrote Andrew Gainer-Dewar, a Google software engineer at AWU-CWA in a statement today.

What’s left next is for these Google Fiber employees to negotiate their first contract, which in itself is a colossal effort the companies have enormous power to pull out or sabotage. So far, the specific changes that workers hope to win the bargaining have not been disclosed by the AWU-CWA, although keeping the targets is by no means unusual.

Earlier this year, the NLRB’s document discovery revealed the existence of an internal Google initiative known as “Project Vivian.” Equal reported by Wired, the program’s purpose is to “prevent employees from uniting after the workers’ movement began to heat up at the end of 2018”; and as documented by Michael Pfyl, the company’s director of employment law himself, Project Vivian is meant to “get employees to be more active and convince them that unions are a bad thing.”

Initially, the workers filed an application requesting that Alphabet and BDS be treated as joint employers in their partnership application. However, in hopes of avoiding legal problems and the benefits of an emergency vote, Alphabet was ultimately disqualified.

A Google spokesperson told Engadget: “We have many contracts with both union and non-union suppliers and respect the right of their employees to choose whether or not to join a union.” is a matter between employees and their employers, BDS Solutions Group. “

Correction: a previous version of this story listed Alphabet as a general employer. While originally filed as such with the NLRB, those terms have changed over the past two months and we’ve updated them to reflect that.

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