Alpha Global says it 'mistakenly' publicized a tie-up with Alphabet Workers Union, confusing organizing efforts at Google

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Alpha Global says it 'mistakenly' publicized a tie-up with Alphabet Workers Union, confusing organizing efforts at Google
Charles Platiau/Reuters
  • Google union efforts have been confused by an apparently botched international alliance.
  • Last week, the semi-official Alphabet Workers Union appeared to join the worldwide Alpha Global movement.
  • But Alpha Global retracted an announcement confirming the AWU's participation, saying it made a mistake.
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Efforts by workers at Google and its parent firm Alphabet to organize are already mired in confusion.

The new Alpha Global union, which bills itself as an international union alliance for Alphabet workers, has had to backtrack on a statement announcing a tie-up with the growing Alphabet Workers Union.

In early January, 400 Googlers in the US and Canada formed the Alphabet Workers Union, citing years of rising tensions between workers and managers. That union has added about 600 new members since it was formed.

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Google has about 132,121 worldwide employees, according to its most recent quarterly report, meaning the Alphabet Workers Union's members represent a small fraction of the firm's workforce. The union is a minority union, meaning it does not have bargaining power. It's also part of the bigger Communications Workers of America.

Weeks later, the UNI Global Union, an international network of labor movements around the world, announced the AWU had joined a worldwide coalition of Google workers called Alpha Global.

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The original announcement carried a quote from Parul Koul, a Google software engineer and executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, in which she apparently said it was "so important to unite with workers in other countries."

But the UNI has now published a retraction, saying that it failed to get permission from the Communications Workers of America union - of which the AWU is a member - or the AWU's leadership team to announce an alliance.

"In our announcement of the Alpha Global alliance, UNI mistakenly included CODE-CWA and the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) as members of the Alpha Global Alliance and a quote from AWU Executive Chair Parul Koul, without receiving proper authorization from CWA, the Alphabet Workers Union's elected Executive Council, or Ms. Koul," the correction reads.

"We take full responsibility and have addressed this situation to prevent it from happening again."

The update comes shortly after The Verge reported that AWU members were "in turmoil" over the announcement of the global alliance. Members told The Verge that the confusion may be down to the Communications Workers of America union, which they said had a tendency to jump the gun on announcements.

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The Verge also reported that Koul did not write the quote in UNI's press release, and that the AWU had set up a committee to examine what role the Communications Workers of America union may have played in making the announcement.

It isn't clear how the new Alpha Global alliance may interact with the AWU, how many employees or contractors at Google are part of Alpha Global, or where the quote from Koul came from.

A spokesman for UNI declined to comment further.

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@businessinsider.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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