04 Jan 2021
Happy 2021 and happy Monday! We usually publish every other Friday, but we wanted to share some breaking news today: 250 workers at Google and its parent company Alphabet just announced that they are forming a union, open to all employees and contractors. Software engineer and union member Raksha Muthukumar – who previously wrote about telling the truth about ‘tech for good’ – explains why and how they will try to change Google for the better.
The Worker’s Perspective
By Raksha Muthukumar
As an organizer, the question I get asked most is “Do you really believe that Google can change?”
And my answer is always, “Well, we won’t know until we try.”
One of the first ideas I had to challenge before I joined the AWU was the idea of Google as an independent entity. As it turns out, “Google” doesn’t really think anything – what we think of as the company “Google” is actually the sum of the efforts of its workers. Our labor and our voices went into making every product, every decision, and every day at the company that ultimately is Google. There is no Google independent of its workers.
So you see, changing Google isn’t about taking on an entire mountain, fighting against its overwhelming mass. Changing Google is about stepping forward with my coworkers – that’s the way that Google moves. Joining AWU was my step forward and I stand today beside 250 of my colleagues who are prepared to move Google in the direction we want to see it go.
We aren’t just moving the mountain, we are the mountain.
To me, AWU stands for democracy, solidarity, and justice.
Democracy. AWU is a vehicle to take back our power. We demand democracy from our government, yet we’ve grown accustomed to giving it up in our workplace. Googlers have long organized around what we believe in, but AWU marks the beginning of a formal shape to our advocacy. Through our union we’ll be able to elect our own representatives and build a culture of communication instead of one of fear. Our labor, our voice.
Solidarity. Ask anyone for a statistic about Alphabet and they’ll likely mention the billions of dollars or millions of users. But behind those dollar signs is an even more important number – hundreds of thousands of workers. Some workers at Alphabet write code and design phones, while other workers translate for deaf colleagues, keep our offices safe during a pandemic, feed, drive, and otherwise nourish their colleagues. AWU challenges the hierarchy by inviting every worker to take a seat at the table. Every voice at our table is held up by the power of our collective.
Justice. It’s time for tech workers to stand together and say no, we won’t prop up a world made for the wealthy, the privileged, the white, the male, the heteronormative. We’re adding our voices to the scales where profit and ethics are weighed, and we’re shifting the balance towards justice. As workers, it’s our responsibility to say yes to the environment, yes to racial justice, and yes to our shared future. AWU is creating an Alphabet we can all be proud to work at.
If you work at Google or Alphabet as an employee or contractor and want to be a part of the future that AWU is creating, head to alphabetworkersunion.org for resources and testimonials from your coworkers. Reach out to a member of our collective and ask us why we’re here. Tell us what you want to see in the future of Alphabet. And then let’s try to change Google, together.