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Reuters

Employees at Google Contractor Join USW

The 80 employees faced a harsh anti-union campaign, but voted union yes

Brian Young's picture
Sep 24, 2019

As companies like Google and Facebook exploded over the last 20 years, tech jobs have come into the spotlight. While those who work in Silicon Valley are often well paid, tech giants have begun following the lead of other businesses and outsourcing work to cheaper companies.

One such company is HCL Technologies, a tech firm based in Pittsburgh, PA. HCL is a third-party firm that works with Google. Their employees work as analysts and trainers for Google’s shopping product and work alongside Google employees. They even work in the same office in Bakery Square. Yet, HCL pays them around $40,000 a year. HCL employees also don’t get sick days or any of the other perks that Google offers its employees. These workers are just some of the tens of thousands of temps, vendors, and contractors (referred to as TVC’s by the company), who help keep Google running. TVC’s now make up over half of the company’s staff.

The 80 employees at HCL decided that they’ve had enough and decided to reach out to the United Steelworkers (USW). The union has been working to organize tech workers through their Pittsburgh Association of Technical Professionals (PATP) program. Over the next few weeks, HCL employees collected signatures from about 66% of the workforce and filed for a union election.

As they were waiting for an election, HCL decided that they wanted to play dirty. The company held mandatory meetings and brought in a controversial management consultant. Even in the face of this anti-union campaign, the staff voted to join USW.

"Over the past few months, management has implied – and in some cases outright told us – that it's better to just be quiet than fight for what's right," said HCL worker Johanne Rokholt. "Today we have proved that we are not willing to do that."

An organizing victory at HCL is a huge step for the union movement. Tech workers have long been seen as the next big industry to organize, but it has been difficult to gain a foothold. With more work being outsourced though, salaries are falling, and unions are starting to look a lot better.

"We deserve more respect, dignity, and democracy in our relationship with our employer," said HCL worker Joshua Borden. "We fought for a seat at the table, and today we won. We look forward to bargaining a contract that reflects our important contributions to HCL's continuing success."

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