Workers at BDS Connected Solutions, a contractor for Alphabet's Google Fiber internet service, have successfully unionized, the National Labor Relations Board announced on Friday. The contractors, who won union rights with a 9-1 vote, are the first Google Fiber workers to successfully unionize, as well as the Alphabet Workers Union's first recognized bargaining unit.
The win follows a months-long effort and "a continuous union-busting effort from management," according to the NLRB. The unit will be represented by Alphabet Workers Union-CWA local 1400, part of Communications Workers of America, and covers retail workers at several Google Fiber retail locations in Kansas City, Missouri.
"Our campaign faced many efforts to discourage us from exercising our right to a collective voice on the job," Eris Derickson, a retail employee of BDS Connected Solutions and Google Fiber, said in a statement. "Yet it was always clear to all of us that together we can positively shape our working conditions to ensure we all have access to the quality pay, benefits and protections we have earned."
The group first sought union recognition in early January, filing a petition that sought to negotiate for rights with both BDS Connected Solutions and Alphabet. The group claimed that Alphabet is a “joint employer,” as it oversees the employees enough to be liable for their treatment. The win provides leverage to these workers to bargain for the same rights and treatment that Google's full-time employees receive.
The Alphabet Workers Union was founded in early 2021, and hadn't previously sought formal recognition. The win forces Alphabet to recognize the 800-member workers union, and could represent the first step for Google to be recognized as a joint employer for the vast amount of contract and temporary workers that are part of its workforce.
"It has been incredible to watch AWU-CWA continue to strengthen their ranks by strengthening the organizing partnership between both full time and temporary, vendor and contract workers at Google," Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America local 1400, said in a statement. "We are honored to welcome these workers into our union as they continue to transform the landscape for temporary, vendor, contractor and full time workers at Google."
Google responded to the unionization vote on Friday: “We have many contracts with both unionized and non-union suppliers, and respect their employees' right to choose whether or not to join a union," a spokesperson told Protocol. "The decision of these contractors to join the Communications Workers of America is a matter between the workers and their employer, BDS Solutions Group."