Google Fiber workers set for union vote in March

A group of Google Fiber workers in Missouri will vote next month on whether to join the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a division of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced Thursday.

In a notice of election, the NLRB said ballots will be mailed to employees on March 4, who will have until March 24 to return them. The votes will then be comingled and counted at 2 pm on Friday March 25 at the NLRB’s Subregional Office 17 in Overland Park, Kansas. The ballots will contain only one question, asking employees to decide whether they want to designate CWA as their representative for collective bargaining.

The vote comes after 10 out of 11 workers in Google Fiber’s Kansas City, Missouri retail store signed union cards with AWU-CWA and petitioned the NLRB for recognition last month. The workers are employed by Google Fiber subcontractor BDS Connected Solutions. Bloomberg reported they are the first Google Fiber workers to petition to be formally represented by AWU-CWA.

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Jason Guffey, a retail associate at Google Fiber and BDS Connected Solutions, said in a statement “We look forward to becoming the first certified bargaining unit with AWU-CWA and to sitting at the negotiating table after our successful union election.”

He added the workers are asking BDS to “commit to not engage in any union-busting activities” ahead of the vote and called on Google to instruct BDS to allow a fair election.

Though technically subcontractors, the workers’ move is notable given a 2019 report from The New York Times found Google employs more temps and contractors than full-time employees.

CWA already represents workers employed by a number of other operators, including AT&T, Verizon, Frontier Communications and Consolidated Communications. AWU was formed in January 2021 to give Alphabet employees a voice to address culture issues related to business decisions they found to be unethical.

The Google Fiber workers in Missouri originally listed Alphabet as a joint employer on their NLRB petition, but a CWA representative told Fierce they subsequently removed its name from the document due to fears litigation could delay the union election.