Win Union vote by Group of Google contractors who work on Search and Bard

Win Union vote by Group of Google contractors who work on Search and Bard

A group of contractors working for Google, some of whom have been involved in projects related to Search and Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot Bard, have successfully voted to form a union.

This group, employed by the Google contractor Accenture, initiated the unionization process in June. They claimed that Google had asked them to assist in training the generative AI responses used in Search and Bard, and they felt inadequately prepared for their tasks. According to reports from Bloomberg, their responsibilities included handling “obscene and graphic” content.

After initiating the unionization process, the group, consisting of 120 individuals, including writers, graphic designers, and coordinators, among others, were reportedly informed that more than half of the team would be laid off. The Alphabet Workers Union alleged that these layoffs were an act of retaliation.

In 2021, the Alphabet Workers Union formed a partnership with the Communications Workers of America as a minority union.

In June, the AWU-CA submitted a request to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, seeking to have Alphabet recognized as a “joint employer” alongside their contractor, Accenture. This designation would mean that the tech company would share responsibility for the treatment of workers. In the recent ruling, the Regional Director of Region 20 in San Francisco determined that both organizations are indeed joint employers, and they are both obligated to engage in negotiations regarding the terms and conditions of employment, as confirmed by an NLRB spokesperson.

Win Union vote by Group of Google contractors who work on Search and Bard

On Monday night, members of the group voted in favor of union representation with a count of 26 in favor and 2 against, as confirmed by the NLRB.

Google expressed its disagreement with the NLRB’s decision to categorize it as a joint employer alongside Accenture and has initiated an appeal to challenge and reverse the ruling.

“We do not oppose the decision of these Accenture workers to choose union representation,” stated Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini in a statement to CNBC. “We have a history of engaging with unionized suppliers through various contracts. However, as we’ve emphasized in our ongoing appeal to the NLRB, we do not consider ourselves a joint employer, as we do not have control over their employment terms or working conditions. This issue pertains to the relationship between the workers and their employer, Accenture.”

Jen Hill, a designer on Google’s support staff within Google Help and a member of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, described this as a victory and expressed the group’s anticipation of engaging with Google in negotiations at the bargaining table.

“Today’s triumph demonstrates what can be achieved when workers unite; even Google cannot obstruct our path,” Hill stated in a press release. “We organized with the goal of having a voice in determining our working conditions. In response, Google has attempted to evade its responsibilities as our employer, all the while laying off many of our team members. It is unfair that our positions are being outsourced to workers who will receive even lower pay than us and will have fewer labor protections.”

This ruling represents the second instance in which Google has been categorized as a joint employer with its contractor for a particular group of workers. In April, the NLRB declared that members of the YouTube Content Operations Team were jointly employed by both Google and Cognizant Technology Solutions. Alphabet also filed an appeal against the NLRB’s decision in that case.

In Short: A group of Google contractors, including individuals working on Search and the artificial intelligence chatbot Bard, have succeeded in winning a union vote. They had initiated unionization efforts due to concerns about their work and preparation, including handling sensitive content. The Alphabet Workers Union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking recognition of Alphabet as a joint employer with contractor Accenture. Google has appealed the decision, contesting the joint employer classification. This vote marks the second instance of Google being classified as a joint employer with its contractor for specific employee groups.