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📰 "Okay, Google: Unionize!"

Today, Explained

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Sean Rameswaram
Guest: Shirin Ghaffary, Reporter, Recode
Category: Biz & Tech | 📰 News

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:37] “On January 4th, the first Monday of the year, over two hundred Google employees came out and said they had formed a union. […] This was a huge deal in tech. For years, Google workers have been launching these kind of […] one off activism campaigns over issues they care about, whether that's Google doing business with the military. And many people were against that or how they treat […] contractors. But [this] was the first time that there was actually a formal group being organized who were full-time employees.”

[1:49] “[T]he tensions at Google go back deep for the past couple of years […]. [T]his company that once was a startup with the motto Don't be evil. And this culture of letting employees debate and question every single decision, that's changed because Google has become a bigger company now and employees have started to realize that they don't always have the final say that there have been some decisions that management has just made in private and has not backed down to employee concerns. And that's caused a lot of upset within the company.”

[10:35] “[T]he Google Union came out just the day after the mob [stormed the Capitol] and said that they condemned what happened. And they find Google and its parent company, Alphabet, squarely responsible for this because they think that it has not done enough to stop the hate and harassment, discrimination and radicalization from growing on YouTube. And remember, Google owns YouTube and they see the company as enabling the kind of extremism that led to the violence we saw at the Capitol. And they demanded that the company take more action, that they […] deplatform Trump and more deeply kind of address this what they see is this rot at the core of the platform.”

[13:45] “There's a lot of attention on this news because Silicon Valley is known as an anti-union culture […]. For decades, Silicon Valley has made it its competitive advantage to be sort of anti-union over the East Coast […]. There's this idea that if you're a tech engineer, you shouldn't unionize because you're better than that. You don't need a union, you're smart, you're well-paid, and that unionization is a form of bureaucracy that gets in the way of innovation. That has been the driving ethos of the culture around labor rights in Silicon Valley since Intel. So the news that now one of the most prominent tech companies has staff that is unionizing who are engineers, that's huge.”

[23:43] “I think that when workers at Google do something, it sends a message to all the other tech workers in the industry. Everyone's looking at Google and people who work at Facebook. […] They're all following this news. […] They are noticing. And I think there's been months of relative quiet and we're starting to see the floodgates open again around worker activism in the valley.”

Rating: 🍎🍎🍎

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 27 min | 🗓️ 01/14/2021
✅ Time saved: 25 min

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