Technology

Google Fiber contractors in Kansas City are first to unionize under Alphabet Worker Union

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A technician gets cabling out of his truck to install Google Fiber.
George Frey | Reuters

Google Fiber contractors in Kansas City, Missouri voted to unionize Friday, becoming the first workers with bargaining rights under the Alphabet Workers Union.

The group of 10 full-time workers are employed by BDS Connected Solutions through Alphabet and work in a retail store for Google Fiber, the project that provides high-speed internet access to 19 U.S. markets.

Last month, workers at the Google Fiber location petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for formal union recognition after Google and BDS didn’t voluntarily agree to allow it. Workers told CNBC they faced union-busting efforts leading up to the vote.

The National Labors Relations Board counted and approved March votes on Friday. The 9 to 1 vote marks the first location of Google workers to unionize under the Alphabet Workers Union, which was created a year ago alongside the Communications Workers of America (CWA) amid increased tensions between workers and Google leadership.

The Alphabet Workers Union now has more than 800 members in various locations across the company, but otherwise operates through a “minority union” model, meaning it doesn’t have bargaining rights with leadership.

The Kansas City workers do have bargaining rights, however, and the union’s ability to obtain negotiating leverage could motivate other groups of workers to pursue their own elections.

“Our campaign faced many efforts to discourage us from exercising our right to a collective voice on the job. 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,” Eris Derickson, Retail Associate at BDS Connected Solutions and Google Fiber said in a statement Friday.  We all enjoy our work with Google Fiber and look forward to sitting at the negotiating table with BDS Connected Solutions to set a new standard for our workplace to improve both worker, customer and company experience.”

The Google Fiber unit union drive is part of a broader movement in the tech industry that’s slowly gaining momentum. Amazon workers across several locations are trying to unionize, including at a warehouse in Alabama, where they’re in the process of voting for the second time on whether to form a union. Employee votes from a separate drive on New York’s Staten Island will be counted on Monday.

Spokespeople for BDS Connected Solutions and Google were not immediately available to comment.

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