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谷歌也有了工会,这能让谷歌变得更好吗?

谷歌也有了工会,这能让谷歌变得更好吗?

Danielle Abril 2021年04月14日
随着越来越多的技术人员开始与其强大的雇主较量,谷歌内部也有了工会。

南卡州谷歌数据中心技师沙农·怀特从没想过能遇到如此荒唐的事情:她因为一个水壶而陷入了麻烦。1月,她因在Facebook上抱怨谷歌未能替换其公司发放的水壶而被谷歌停薪,这个水壶的盖子在长时间使用之后开始松动,然后不见了。在受到这一处罚之前,她还向经理反映,自己以及同行承包商与新冠疫情相关的高危补贴发放出现了延迟。然而,在发布水壶事件贴文后,怀特被从数据中心楼层带到了一个电话会议室,在这里,她被指控违反了谷歌的保密协议。她说:“我当时真的笑的不行了,因为水壶毫无专属性可言。”

在获悉这一事件之后,代表谷歌母公司Alphabet员工与承包商利益的Alphabet工会迅速采取了行动。工会将谷歌和聘请怀特的承包商德科(Adecco)告到了全美劳工关系委员会(National Labor Relations Board)。诉状称,怀特的停职是不公平的,而且这两家公司哈试图阻止员工讨论其薪酬。约两周后,在政府对上述投诉做出任何裁决之前,怀特获准回到了岗位,并拿到了欠付工资以及一个新水壶。

Alphabet工会领导人说:“这是我们尝试做的工作。像怀特这样的故事每天都在发生。”

谷歌员工2018年抗议高管性侵的示威游行推动了工会组建动议。图片来源:Original Photo: Michael Short—Bloomberg/Getty Images

工会的成立以及围绕怀特事件与谷歌的对峙说明,科技行业的员工行动主义正日渐盛行。很多公司此前被视为乌托邦,高薪,可以免费吃喝,但它们如今却逐渐遭到其部分员工的诟病。

Facebook雇员曾举办了一场虚拟罢工活动,抗议公司对时任特朗普总统有关其服务的暴力贴文采取的不闻不问政策。3月,亚马逊阿拉巴马州的仓储员工在公司的极力反对下,圆满完成了有关是否成立工会的投票。尽管这一举措未能获得足够的支持,但组织方并不打算就此放弃。与此同时,众筹服务公司Kickstarter的雇员已经成立了工会。

康奈尔大学劳动力研究中心“员工研究所”行政主任帕特里西亚·坎珀斯·梅迪纳表示:“这是人们对这些巨型公司对员工生活影响力的一种反作用力。”

工会招聘的雇员类型因公司而异。在一些情况下,例如亚马逊一样,招聘的是蓝领员工,而在其他公司,例如谷歌,其吸纳对象还包括高薪工程师。

Alphabet工会于1月成立,但这一举措的萌芽据称源于三年前。当时,有消息称,谷歌正在为中国开发一款带有审查权限的搜索引擎,项目名为“蜻蜓”。很多雇员抱怨称,该项目以金钱为出发点,牺牲了自由言论。最终,该项目在员工的批评声中被搁置。

不久之后,2万名谷歌员工再次罢工,抗议公司对高管性侵指控的处理方式。谷歌最终同意了部分员工的要求,例如废除谷歌要求对性骚扰和性侵犯事件进行强制仲裁的规定。

除了改善员工的工作环境之外,新成立的工会希望给谷歌施加压力,要求其仅从事有助于公益事业的科技研发。尽管工会规模很小——仅有900名成员,而Alphabet全球员工总数达到了13.5万名,但工会领导者称,他们对于当前的发展态势感到十分欣慰。

作为一个“少数群体工会”,它的权力十分有限,而且无法逼迫Alphabet就劳动合同进行磋商。该工会是美国通讯业工人协会的一员,后者代表着全美70万名员工,其中大多数都集中在电信、媒体和航空行业。

罗格斯大学工人组织创新中心简尼斯·范恩认为,尽管谷歌的工会为少数群体工会,但依然有其权力。例如,它可以公开披露任何其视为不道德的谷歌项目,或组织停工斗争,并帮助联邦和州政府持续开展其有关谷歌的反垄断调查。范恩说:“要说破坏公司的声誉,内部员工有得天独厚的优势。”

Alphabet工会执行理事会成员奥尼·阿桑表示,工会新成员的招募速度说明,员工认为他们可以改变谷歌的现状。要成功地与这家巨型公司打交道,工会承认自身要具备随机应变的能力。“我们必须采用非常规的方法,并另辟蹊径,”阿桑说,“我们如何才能找到痛点,并从不同的方向进行进攻?”

谷歌拒绝了《财富》杂志的采访请求,而是提供了一份声明。谷歌人力运营部门总监卡拉•西尔弗斯坦说:“当然,我们的雇员保护了谷歌所支持的劳工权益。然而,就像我们一直做的那样,我们将继续直接接洽公司的所有雇员。”

到目前为止,就采取行动而言,工会已经谴责谷歌的子公司YouTube对美国国会山骚乱之后人们对其服务的“仇恨”缺乏应对政策。工会还批评了今年早些时候玛格丽特·米切尔的停职事件,后者是谷歌道德人工智能团队的领导人,她随后被谷歌开除。此前,还有一名知名研究人员提姆尼特·戈布鲁也被谷歌炒了鱿鱼。

然而如今,组织方称,工会大多专注于创建分支业务,并培训成员如何吸纳新成员。考尔说:“这些都是今后很长一段时间内为保持工会战斗力所必须要做的事情。”

最终,评判工会的影响力是一件很困难的事情。对于公众来说,让数据中心的一名承包商回归原职可能看起来是一件微不足道的事情。然而对于这位承包商来说,这是一场巨大的胜利。怀特说:“工会自1月才开始运作,而且已经扭转了一名员工的命运。试想一下,如果工会在五年前就已开始运行,会带来多大的影响?”

****

科技行业工会现状

谷歌员工并非是唯一在近期推动企业工会化的科技公司雇员。

Kickstarter

2月,这家初创融资服务企业的雇员同意在办公室与职业雇员国际工会领导下组建工会。

Medium

这家线上出版平台的员工最近尝试成立工会,但这一动议并未得到多数人通过。工会支持者自此之后停止了其工会组建活动。

Glitch

在于2020年3月加入美国通讯业工人协会之后,这家软件公司的雇员通过与管理层约1年的谈判,达成了一项协议。

视频游戏

一些游戏行业的雇员正推动工会组建举措,以阻止工作过度劳累现象。去年,美国通讯业工人协会对这一举措给予了支持。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

南卡州谷歌数据中心技师沙农·怀特从没想过能遇到如此荒唐的事情:她因为一个水壶而陷入了麻烦。1月,她因在Facebook上抱怨谷歌未能替换其公司发放的水壶而被谷歌停薪,这个水壶的盖子在长时间使用之后开始松动,然后不见了。在受到这一处罚之前,她还向经理反映,自己以及同行承包商与新冠疫情相关的高危补贴发放出现了延迟。然而,在发布水壶事件贴文后,怀特被从数据中心楼层带到了一个电话会议室,在这里,她被指控违反了谷歌的保密协议。她说:“我当时真的笑的不行了,因为水壶毫无专属性可言。”

在获悉这一事件之后,代表谷歌母公司Alphabet员工与承包商利益的Alphabet工会迅速采取了行动。工会将谷歌和聘请怀特的承包商德科(Adecco)告到了全美劳工关系委员会(National Labor Relations Board)。诉状称,怀特的停职是不公平的,而且这两家公司哈试图阻止员工讨论其薪酬。约两周后,在政府对上述投诉做出任何裁决之前,怀特获准回到了岗位,并拿到了欠付工资以及一个新水壶。

Alphabet工会领导人说:“这是我们尝试做的工作。像怀特这样的故事每天都在发生。”

工会的成立以及围绕怀特事件与谷歌的对峙说明,科技行业的员工行动主义正日渐盛行。很多公司此前被视为乌托邦,高薪,可以免费吃喝,但它们如今却逐渐遭到其部分员工的诟病。

Facebook雇员曾举办了一场虚拟罢工活动,抗议公司对时任特朗普总统有关其服务的暴力贴文采取的不闻不问政策。3月,亚马逊阿拉巴马州的仓储员工在公司的极力反对下,圆满完成了有关是否成立工会的投票。尽管这一举措未能获得足够的支持,但组织方并不打算就此放弃。与此同时,众筹服务公司Kickstarter的雇员已经成立了工会。

康奈尔大学劳动力研究中心“员工研究所”行政主任帕特里西亚·坎珀斯·梅迪纳表示:“这是人们对这些巨型公司对员工生活影响力的一种反作用力。”

工会招聘的雇员类型因公司而异。在一些情况下,例如亚马逊一样,招聘的是蓝领员工,而在其他公司,例如谷歌,其吸纳对象还包括高薪工程师。

Alphabet工会于1月成立,但这一举措的萌芽据称源于三年前。当时,有消息称,谷歌正在为中国开发一款带有审查权限的搜索引擎,项目名为“蜻蜓”。很多雇员抱怨称,该项目以金钱为出发点,牺牲了自由言论。最终,该项目在员工的批评声中被搁置。

不久之后,2万名谷歌员工再次罢工,抗议公司对高管性侵指控的处理方式。谷歌最终同意了部分员工的要求,例如废除谷歌要求对性骚扰和性侵犯事件进行强制仲裁的规定。

除了改善员工的工作环境之外,新成立的工会希望给谷歌施加压力,要求其仅从事有助于公益事业的科技研发。尽管工会规模很小——仅有900名成员,而Alphabet全球员工总数达到了13.5万名,但工会领导者称,他们对于当前的发展态势感到十分欣慰。

作为一个“少数群体工会”,它的权力十分有限,而且无法逼迫Alphabet就劳动合同进行磋商。该工会是美国通讯业工人协会的一员,后者代表着全美70万名员工,其中大多数都集中在电信、媒体和航空行业。

罗格斯大学工人组织创新中心简尼斯·范恩认为,尽管谷歌的工会为少数群体工会,但依然有其权力。例如,它可以公开披露任何其视为不道德的谷歌项目,或组织停工斗争,并帮助联邦和州政府持续开展其有关谷歌的反垄断调查。范恩说:“要说破坏公司的声誉,内部员工有得天独厚的优势。”

Alphabet工会执行理事会成员奥尼·阿桑表示,工会新成员的招募速度说明,员工认为他们可以改变谷歌的现状。要成功地与这家巨型公司打交道,工会承认自身要具备随机应变的能力。“我们必须采用非常规的方法,并另辟蹊径,”阿桑说,“我们如何才能找到痛点,并从不同的方向进行进攻?”

谷歌拒绝了《财富》杂志的采访请求,而是提供了一份声明。谷歌人力运营部门总监卡拉•西尔弗斯坦说:“当然,我们的雇员保护了谷歌所支持的劳工权益。然而,就像我们一直做的那样,我们将继续直接接洽公司的所有雇员。”

到目前为止,就采取行动而言,工会已经谴责谷歌的子公司YouTube对美国国会山骚乱之后人们对其服务的“仇恨”缺乏应对政策。工会还批评了今年早些时候玛格丽特·米切尔的停职事件,后者是谷歌道德人工智能团队的领导人,她随后被谷歌开除。此前,还有一名知名研究人员提姆尼特·戈布鲁也被谷歌炒了鱿鱼。

然而如今,组织方称,工会大多专注于创建分支业务,并培训成员如何吸纳新成员。考尔说:“这些都是今后很长一段时间内为保持工会战斗力所必须要做的事情。”

最终,评判工会的影响力是一件很困难的事情。对于公众来说,让数据中心的一名承包商回归原职可能看起来是一件微不足道的事情。然而对于这位承包商来说,这是一场巨大的胜利。怀特说:“工会自1月才开始运作,而且已经扭转了一名员工的命运。试想一下,如果工会在五年前就已开始运行,会带来多大的影响?”

****

技行业工会现状

谷歌员工并非是唯一在近期推动企业工会化的科技公司雇员。

Kickstarter

2月,这家初创融资服务企业的雇员同意在办公室与职业雇员国际工会领导下组建工会。

Medium

这家线上出版平台的员工最近尝试成立工会,但这一动议并未得到多数人通过。工会支持者自此之后停止了其工会组建活动。

Glitch

在于2020年3月加入美国通讯业工人协会之后,这家软件公司的雇员通过与管理层约1年的谈判,达成了一项协议。

视频游戏

一些游戏行业的雇员正推动工会组建举措,以阻止工作过度劳累现象。去年,美国通讯业工人协会对这一举措给予了支持。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Shannon Wait, a technician at a Google data center in South Carolina, never thought something as inconsequential as a water bottle could get her into trouble. But in January, she was suspended without pay for complaining on Facebook that Google wouldn’t replace her company-issued water bottle, which was missing its cap after it had loosened over time. The punishment came after she had also talked to managers about a delay in promised COVID-related hazard pay for herself and fellow contractors. But after posting about the water bottle, Wait was escorted from the data center floor to a conference call, during which she was accused of violating Google’s nondisclosure agreement. “I could do nothing but laugh, because there is nothing proprietary about a water bottle,” she says.

After hearing about the incident, Alphabet Workers Union, which represents employees and contractors of Google parent Alphabet, sprang into action. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Google and Adecco, the contracting company that had hired Wait. It alleged that Wait’s suspension was unfair and that the companies had tried to stop workers from discussing their pay. About two weeks later, before any government ruling on the complaint, Wait was allowed to return to her job—with back pay and a new water bottle to boot.

“That’s the kind of work we’re trying to do,” says Parul Koul, the Alphabet union’s leader. “And stories like hers are coming up every day.”

The union’s founding and its face-off with Google over Wait are examples of growing worker activism across the tech industry. Once considered to be utopias, with high pay and free food, many technology companies are now increasingly seen by some of their staff as adversaries.

Facebook employees held a virtual walkout protesting the company’s lax stance on then-President Donald Trump’s inflammatory posts on its service. In March, Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama wrapped up voting on whether to unionize amid the company’s intense opposition. The unionization effort failed to garner sufficient support, but organizers plan to challenge the result. Meanwhile, employees at crowdfunding service Kickstarter have already formed a union.

“This is a reaction to the level of power these megacorporations are having on people’s lives,” says Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director at Cornell University’s labor research center, the Worker Institute.

The type of employee being recruited by unions varies by company. In some cases, as at Amazon, it’s blue-collar workers, while elsewhere, such as at Google, the push includes high-paid engineers.

The Alphabet union made its public debut in January, but its roots arguably date back to three years ago. That was when news leaked that Google was working on a censored search engine for China, called Project Dragonfly. Many employees complained that the project, ultimately shelved amid the uproar, prioritized money over free speech.

That episode was followed by a walkout of 20,000 Googlers who were upset about the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. Google ultimately agreed to some employee demands like eliminating forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases.

In addition to improving working conditions, the new union hopes to pressure Google to work only on tech that serves the public good. Although the union is small—it has just 900 members out of 135,000 Alphabet employees globally—its leaders say they are pleased with how things are going.

As a “minority union,” it has limited power and can’t force Alphabet to bargain over a labor contract. The union is part of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 workers nationally, mostly in the telecom, media, and airline industries.

Janice Fine, director of Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, argues that Google’s union, despite its minority status, has power. For example, it could publicly expose any Google projects that are deemed unethical, organize work stoppages, and help federal and state governments with their ongoing antitrust investigation into the company. “Who better to do reputational damage than people who are on the inside?” Fine says.

Auni Ahsan, an executive council member for Alphabet’s union, said the pace of recruiting new union members demonstrates that workers believe they can change the status quo at Google. To succeed against such a huge company, the union admits that it must be nimble. “We’re going to have to be unconventional and creative,” Ahsan says. “How can we find pressure points and attack from different directions?”

Google declined Fortune’s request for an interview and instead provided a statement. “Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support,” says Kara Silverstein, Google’s director of people operations. “But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

So far in terms of taking action, the union has condemned Google’s YouTube subsidiary for a “lackluster” policing of hate on its service following the U.S. Capitol riots. The union also criticized the suspension earlier this year of Margaret Mitchell, a leader of Google’s Ethical A.I. team who was later fired, following the ouster of another high-profile researcher, Timnit Gebru.

But for now, organizers say the union is mostly focused on setting up operations and training members how to grow their ranks. “That’s what’s going to be necessary to keep the fight up for many years,” Koul says.

In the end, judging the union’s impact is difficult. To the public, reinstating one contractor at a data center may seem relatively minor. But for that one contractor, the win is huge. “The union has only been around since January, and they’ve already made a difference in one person’s life,” Wait says. “Imagine if they had been around the last five years.” 

****

State of the tech union

Google workers aren’t the only tech employees who have recently pushed to unionize.

Kickstarter

In February, employees of the startup funding service agreed to organize under the Office and Professional Employees International Union.

Medium

Workers at the online publishing platform recently tried to form a union, but the drive failed to win a majority. Union supporters have since paused their organizing activities.

Glitch

After joining the Communications Workers of America in March 2020, the software company’s employees negotiated and approved a contract with management in about a year.

Video gaming

Some of the gaming industry’s employees are pushing to unionize to stop from being overworked. Last year, the Communications Workers of America backed the effort.

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