US & Canada: Both Employees and Contractors are Among Growing Alphabet Workers Union

In early January, nearly 230 employees and contractors at Google and other Alphabet companies launched the Alphabet Workers Union to advocate for changes related to compensation, employee classification, labor practices, business dealings, work environments and more. Alphabet’s union will be affiliated with the Communications Workers of America.

Alphabet has more than 120,000 workers, and various reports claim about half are hired as contractors, vendors and temporaries. The union, restricted to workers in Canada and the US due to international labor laws, currently claims 800 members and growing, according to its website.

In a related move, about 6,000 Amazon employees in Alabama are slated to vote on what would be the company’s first unionized warehouse in the US in February.

Takeaway: The Alphabet Workers Union is a minority union, representing a small fraction of Alphabet’s workforce, and accordingly will lack the collective bargaining rights typical to unions. That said, its inclusion of contractors provides a window for such workers to join together with employees more typically associated to protective labor laws. While it’s unknown how many members are indeed contractors, their inclusion is something to be monitored.

In addition, the new year and remote working conditions brought about by the pandemic provide a good reason to carefully review worker engagement policies. Such actions help ensure that employees and the flexible workforce each have channels to voice any concerns and that companies have strategies to address them. Seyfarth Shaw’s Annual Workforce Class Action Litigation Report, updated in January 2021, is another resource to review, featuring a canvas of some top issues facing employers today.


Coronavirus Considerations for Businesses

North America

US: Biden Administration Freezes Proposed Regulations on Worker Classification

US: H1-B Electronic Registration Process Could Undergo Changes

US: Age Discrimination Claim Denied in Worker Performance Case


UK: AGS Launches IR35 Resource Site to Help Companies Prepare for April Countdown

UK: Points-Based Immigration System Updated

UK: Brexit Trade Deal Excludes Financial Services, With Data Sharing and Privacy Rules to Come

Poland & Hungary: EU Ruling Influences Posting of Workers and Services Across Region


India: A Government-Mandated Wage Code Restructuring Could Boost Retirement Income

China: Heavier Penalties for Violating Workplace Safety Measures Being Considered

Australia: New Reform Bill Aims to Protect Workers, Define Casual Employment

This update contains general information only, and AGS is not rendering legal advice. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult qualified legal counsel. AGS shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person or company who relies on this update.