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How much can a union help Google workers push for social justice?

More than 200 employees at Google announced earlier this week that they’re forming a union with the Communications Workers of America. The Verge wrote that organizers have called for broad aims outside of issues like pay disparity.

“Our goal with the union is to ensure that tech companies use their technology to make the world a better place,” said Alan Morales, a Google engineer and an organizer with the Alphabet Workers Union.

Joseph Slater, a law professor at the University of Toledo, said there have always been two types of demands that unions want to make. “One is the traditional bread-and-butter sorts of issues: wages, hours, working conditions,” he said.

“But there is also a long history in the American labor movement of promoting social justice.” Slater cited, for example, how the United Auto Workers supported the civil rights movement in the 1960s, while teachers unions in 2018 and 2019 both protested low wages and fought for more school funding.

Ileen DeVault, a labor history professor at Cornell University, said unions are thought of as entities that are primarily pushing for higher pay. “Part of the reason we think that is because that’s how employers think about them […]

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