KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Staff members who operate retail stores for Google Fiber internet in Kansas City, Missouri, have begun the formal process to form a union.
This week, 10 of the 11 eligible employees filed a request to hold a union vote with the National Labor Relations Board.
The group is organizing under the Alphabet Workers Union which formed one year ago under the Communications Workers of America. Alphabet owns Google.
Eris Derickson works at the Google Fiber retail store near West 43rd Street and State Line Road.
They said the point of unionizing is two fold: one, to have a seat at the table to make workplace changes. And two, to protect what employees currently like about their job.
“There used to be a much more clear line of communication between us and management, which has sort of broken down recently with COVID-19 and team changes,” Derickson said.
Derickson and other employees at the retail store actually work for BDS Connected Solutions, not directly with Google or Alphabet.
University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor Erik Olsen, Ph.D., has studied unions.
He said there are pros and cons of forming a union. Benefits often include increase pay and improved working conditions for employees.
Drawbacks seem to affect mostly the employer, who often has to spend more money to meet union demands and sometimes moves operations to avoid unions.
A 2021 Gallup poll showed more Americans approve of unions now than at any other time since 1965.
Olsen said you’ve seen groups use unions for better working conditions as COVID-19 puts a spotlight on labor issues. Starbucks employees recently unionized in Buffalo, New York.
“They have decided that they want to improve the conditions of their work and unionization can be a mechanism through which they do that,” Olsen explained.
Filing for a union vote is the first of many steps for Derickson and other Google Fiber staff members.
Next, their employer has a chance to respond. Then the NLRB will schedule an election. If a majority of employees approve the union, contract negotiations can begin between the newly formed union and its employer.
“Seeing all of the labor movements with John Deere and Starbucks, it's honestly really inspiring to see that and we just are the next,” Derickson said.
Neither BDS Connected Solutions nor Alphabet responded to requests for comment.