After announcing the formation of the League of Nations on Monday, the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was in turmoil. The alliance is called Alpha Global and is a worker-led initiative, but union members in the United States said they didn’t know this until the exclusive report from The Verge. That article included a press release quoted by AWU executive board member Parul Koul, who said she did not write.
This news surprised the union members. They hoped that the Alphabet Workers Union could operate democratically.
Now, multiple sources tell The Verge that some AWU organizers are considering pushing the organization out of the Communications Workers Association of America (CWA), which is the national union representing telecommunications and media workers. AWU also established a committee to investigate the role of CWA in the announcement.
Auni Ahsan, a member of the AWU Executive Committee, said in a statement: “We want to respect the concerns raised, but our main concern as a trade union is not affiliation or affiliation.”
The upheaval shows the difficulties AWU faces. As a so-called minority alliance, it has not been recognized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), nor can it require Alphabet or its subsidiaries such as Google to negotiate contracts for its members.
Part of its power comes from uniting Alphabet workers and expanding its membership base to initiate public pressure campaigns.
Since the union was made public on January 4, its membership has increased from 230 to more than 800. However, some members raised concerns that the American Association of Communications Workers promoted its listing prematurely.
They also said that CWA has a history of making large announcements without first consulting Google employees. Amr Gaber, a Google engineer who helped organize the 2018 strike, told the New York Times that the union was more concerned about claiming to be turf than listening to the needs of organizers.
The rapid development of the Alphabet Alliance has also highlighted the need for clear rules and procedures, including when the group makes statements and who controls the main announcement.
So far, AWU has called on YouTube to permanently ban Donald Trump and expressed concern about the treatment of Margaret Mitchell, co-chair of the Ethics AI Group. Both statements involve substantial input from union members.
Uni Global Union, a trade union federation based in Switzerland, organized the alliance and worked with at least one CWA representative to develop a promotion strategy. The idea is to convene unions representing Google employees around the world to make it easier for members to share information.
On January 25, AWU held an emergency meeting. According to the meeting minutes reviewed by The Verge, Kuhl said that Uni’s statement “occurred [when no one notified us or informed us that this alliance was forming or that this statement was about to disappear.” She emphasized that she had never been in the news. The manuscript said this sentence was attributed to her and pointed out that she was declared “burned to death”.
The campaign may threaten the stability of AWU, a nascent coalition that is still in the first month of public life. But it may also indicate that the organization is working as expected. The workers work together to change, even if it means breaking up with powerful allies.
If this happens, it will be a serious setback for American communications workers. The organization launched CODE-CWA in 2020, a movement dedicated to workers in the trade union technology industry.
The loss of Google may make it difficult for CWA to organize employees of other large technology companies.