Staff stand outside the Google offices after walking out as a part of a world protest over workplace issues, in London, England, on Nov. 1, 2018.
Toby Melville | Reuters
A gaggle of Google contractors, a few of whom have worked on Search and Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot Bard, have successfully voted to unionize.
The group, from Google contractor Accenture, filed for unionization efforts in June after claiming Google asked them to assist train the generative AI answers offered in Search and Bard, and that they felt underprepared for his or her work. The tasks included handling “obscene and graphic” content, in keeping with Bloomberg reports.
Following the filing for unionization, the group, which included 120 writers, graphic designers and coordinators, amongst others, were told greater than half the team can be laid off, in keeping with the Alphabet Staff Union, which alleged the layoffs were an act of retaliation.
The Alphabet Staff Union teamed up with the Communications Staff of America in 2021 as a minority union.
In June, the AWU-CA asked the U.S. National Labor Relations Board to acknowledge Alphabet as a “joint employer” to their contractor Accenture, meaning the search giant can be held accountable for staff’ treatment. As a component of this week’s ruling, Regional Director of Region 20 – San Francisco found that the 2 organizations are joint employers, and each have the duty to bargain over terms and conditions of employment, in keeping with an NLRB spokesperson.
Staff within the group voted for union representation 26-2 Monday night, the NLRB confirmed.
Google said it believes the NLRB’s decision to categorise it as a joint employer with Accenture is inaccurate, and it has appealed to reverse the choice.
“We have now no objection to those Accenture staff electing to form a union,” said Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini in an announcement to CNBC. “We have long had many contracts with unionized suppliers. Nonetheless, as we made clear in our energetic appeal to the NLRB, we usually are not a joint employer as we simply don’t control their employment terms or working conditions — this matter is between the employees and their employer, Accenture.”
Jen Hill, a designer on Google’s support staff Google Help and member of the Alphabet Staff Union-CWA, called it a victory and said the group looks forward to meeting Google on the bargaining table.
“Today’s victory proves what’s possible: when staff stand together, even Google cannot stand in our way,” Hill said in an announcement. “We organized in order that we could have a say in our working conditions. In response, Google has tried to skirt its responsibility to us as our employer, while also shedding dozens of our team members. It’s unjust that our jobs are being shipped off to staff who will probably be paid even lower than us, and could have access to even fewer labor protections.”
The choice marks the second ruling to categorise Google as a joint employer with its contractor for a subset of employees. In April, the NLRB announced that it found members of the YouTube Content Operations Team to be jointly employed by each Google and Cognizant Technology Solutions. Alphabet appealed the NLRB’s decision in that case as well.
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