A supermajority of customer service representatives for Google Fiber, operating out of a store in Kansas City, Missouri, have signed union cards in the hopes of bargaining their first contract with their bosses. Engadget reports: They’re organizing under the auspices of the Alphabet Workers Union, a year-old division of the Communication Workers of America which is seeking to represent employees and contractors at all level of Google’s parent company. The 11 workers — 10 of whom have signed cards since the union drive began in October — are jointly employed by Google and a staffing agency called BDS Connected Solutions.
That’s not out of the ordinary, as staffing arrangements with Alphabet go: a 2019 story in the New York Times found temps and contractors made up the majority of the tech giant’s workforce, while a Recode report that same year indicated that this second class of laborers earned significantly less than Google’s own full-time employees. According to two BDS workers who spoke to Engadget, customer representatives had been feeling left out of key conversations about staffing and safety protocols, and communication with management has deteriorated. […] Kansas City was the very first market Google Fiber launched in, nearly a decade ago.
What makes this push to form a bargaining unit somewhat unusual, however, has been the decision to skip straight to petitioning the National Labor Relations Board. Typically, this is the longer, more arduous option when an employer refuses to voluntarily recognize a union. But, according to Adair, Alphabet and BDS have neither attempted to quash the union drive, nor expressed a willingness to recognize it. “There’s been no acknowledgement, no pushback. no response at all yet,” they said. […] While they weren’t keen to give too many specifics as to what they’d hope to secure in a first contract, one of the benefits they’re seeking to obtain is hazard pay [while working in person in a pandemic.] While it may be months or years before the NLRB makes a ruling, Google Fiber representative Mike Knox hopes it might spur action from others within Google Fiber. “We’re really hoping that this inspires in that regard,” he said. “We’re hoping that’s a flashpoint where other people can see that and decide to push for more input.”