HRMT413 Employment and Labor Relations, Week 7 Assignment
HRMT413 Employment and Labor Relations, Week 7 Assignment
Google’s Unionization Issues
There has been a growth in the stories about why people are not being allowed to unionize at Google for a long time. Google is one of the big tech companies that resisted the people's calls to unionize till about 2021 when the company allowed its executives to join the unions. The company has always been direct about engaging its issues with the employees. For a long time, the company prided itself to be one of the best executives’ firms for the employees due to the better working conditions at the company compared to other firms. Google executives have often maintained that the best way to deal with employee issues and situations was to engage them directly. This essay will focus on why the employees at Google chose to unionize and why Google has been against it over the years.
The reason why Google Employees Chose to Unionize
Writing for the New York Times newspaper, Kate Conger says that the number of employees who chose to unionize at Google represents a tiny fraction of employees at the organization (Conger, 2021). The reasons for unionization are not because there is a need for better representation because of the dire breach of contract by the employer or because Google is allowing its employees to work in Squalid work situations (Conger, 2021). The company employees chose to form a union to create or finalize a culture of activism.
It came at the story's backdrop where a Google Chief Executive Officer was either fired or demoted due to her participation in activism related to the slain man in the United States, George Floyd (Conger, 2021). The specific reasons for unionization are as follows: The employees did not want the company executives to have excessive control. There was a consensus among these employees that they could build a consensus and articulate their issues better if they formed a union (Needleman, 2021). Some of the employees wanted the company to overhaul its long-standing traditions regarding pay policy.
The situation at Google is an unusual one. Most employees at other organizations would enter into negotiations for better pay or collective bargaining agreements. It is always because the organization salary negotiations have stalled over the years, and hence they want the unions to help them push for better pay. However, with Google, having a voice seemed to be a stronger motivation for the push for unionization.
The genesis of the unionization push began in 2018 when there were employees who staged a walkout of the company premises because the company policies perpetuated the issues of sexual harassment. Employees complained that most of them could not speak out against the problems of harassment(Needleman, 2021). They do not have the voice or the avenue to vent their frustration. The employees wanted to form a union to ensure that the organization hears them out, respects their opinion, and values them as equal partners in the salary negotiations. They wanted to speak freely regarding issues about their cultures, for instance, the need for career progression at Google and the need to have access to further benefits. The case at Google shows that monetary benefits are not the only reasons why employees would join the unions. Employees feel at ease if the firm seems to be muzzling their voices even with evidence of higher pay.
News Claims point to the social causes for unionization rather than economic reasons. For example, there were beliefs that Google has continued to have unfair labour and work practices which affected the employees of colour to advance at the organization. During the run-up to the 2020 elections of the United States, employees increasingly called on the firm to be more proactive against the news outlets and the groups of people who were spewing hate on some of its platforms (Perry, 2021).
Evidence suggests that the National Labor Relations board sanctioned the organization because of its secret dress down and subsequent firing of the employees who seemed to have engaged in unionization. The employees were also against what appeared to be a secret pact between Google the People’s Republic of China, where Google would sell its equipment to China to create a people’s censored media or search engine (Perry, 2021). Employees were against what they termed as Google becoming a government propaganda tool because of the ostensive work that the organization was doing with the military.
Reasons why Google was against unionization.
For a long while, Google has always held the opinion that the company must engage directly with its employees. The company wanted to preserve their reputation by not working for the unions. The company defended its self against arm twisting employees. It claimed that it was better placed at understanding the employees' rights and meeting those benefits without being compelled to be part of unions. In an interview, Kara Silverstein, one of Google executives in charge of People's relationships, said that Google had always worked to create an environment for employees to recognise their needs and provide them with the best platforms to work. Despite the continuous push for unionization, she is still convinced that direct engagement with the company employees was the way to go.
Conclusion and Summary
The case at Google shows why companies in the technological sector are jittery about unionization. Google employees wanted to unionize to have better representation for collective bargaining agreements and better representation for articulating their views and opinions. They were against the company’s diversity policies. They did not want the firm to engage in underhand deals with current governments or foreign ones. Organizations should therefore aim at meeting the psychological, social needs of employees instead of only focusing on financial benefits.
Conger, K. (2021, January 4). Hundreds of Google Employees Unionize, Culminating Years of Activism. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/04/technology/google-employees-union.html
Needleman, S. E. (2021, January 4). Google Employees Form Union to Push for Changes. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-employees-form-union-to-push-for-changes-11609782619
Perry, T. (2021, January 8). Will Alphabet’s Unionization Effort Spread to Other Big Tech Companies? Retrieved December 20, 2021, from IEEE Spectrum website: https://spectrum.ieee.org/will-alphabets-unionization-effort-spread-to-other-big-tech-companies