Google pampers its employees, who earn an average of $200,000, but some of them still want to unionize (GOOG, GOOGL)

Paris, French labor union, protest, strike, workers, organize

Google’s capitulation to worker demands that the company stop providing AI technology to the military, may not be the end of Google’s troubles.
Some of the workers who helped organize the protest inside Google are ‘talking about unionization.’
Union talk from people who pull down $200,000 a year isn’t going to endear them to big portions of the country. The average US household doesn’t earn half that amount.
But supporters of the protest say maybe the time has come to create a type of union, one that pushes companies to consider ethics as well as profits.

For some Google employees, it’s not enough that the company pays well, provides free food and allows them to occasionally nod off in the company’s nap pods. Some are now demanding that Google operate within their own ethical guidelines.

So said a Google staffer involved in protests that forced the company to promise not to build artificial-intelligence tools for the military.

In an interview with Jacobin magazine, the Googler indicated that some of those involved in the protest are emboldened by the victory and want to test the limits of their newfound power, maybe as far as a worker’s union.

“The success of the campaign shows that when we stick together, we get more done than when we go it alone,” the person told Jacobin, adding that this strength-in-numbers lesson means, “some Googlers are even talking about unionization.”

Pay, perks and freedom

Unions have traditionally been the go-to strategy for laborers who fear their employees will overwork them and under pay them. But the median annual salary for a Google employee is $197,274 according to data collected by research firm Equilar. Just for comparison, the median household income in the United States is $56,516.

In addition, in the post-911 world many people strongly disagree that it’s inherently unethical to assist the military. And that goes double for projects as benign as analyzing video footage — the chore Google is performing under its Department of Defense contract.

Beyond the pay and perks, Google employees feel free to voice their opinions about the company at work without much fear of retribution.

For instance, once the news leaked that Google was working with the military, the employees opposed to the relationship began drumming up support within the company by using an internally accessible version of Google Plus, according to multiple reports and sources that spoke with Business Insider.

Instead of putting their foot down regarding the military contracts, Google’s leaders engaged in open dialog with employees at multiple meetings. At one such meeting, for example, employees harshly criticized management’s decisions in front of the entire company, Jacobin described.

Tyler Breisacher, a Google employee until quitting in April partly to protest Google’s military work, confirmed that the meeting described in Jacobin occurred, but declined to provide details citing his non-disclosure agreement with the company.

Creating its own monster

According to Jacobin, one angry worker asked during the meeting what kind of mechanism there was to complain and Google cofounder Sergey Brin responded “Letting …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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