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The First Google Fiber Workers Have Unionized

A group of contractors who work on Google Fiber in Missouri have voted to unionize.

David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
Expertise smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, telecom industry, mobile semiconductors, mobile gaming
David Lumb
2 min read
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Google Fiber contractors in Missouri have unionized. On Friday, they signed up with the Alphabet Workers Union, the umbrella union representing employees of Google's parent company, and they'll be the first AWU unit to bargain for a contract. 

The 10 workers who unionized work for BDS Connected Solutions, a staffing company in Kansas City, Missouri, that lends its contracted employees to deploy Google Fiber. They voted in favor of unionizing with the AWU, which has been vocal about including both salaried employees at Google and the temporary, vendor and contract (TVC) workers working indirectly for the tech giant, like those who unionized Friday. Including the new members, the AWU represents over 900 Google salary and TVC employees.

Google Fiber is the tech giant's high-speed fiber-optic internet service, which started in Kansas City before spreading to 10 other cities and areas, including Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City; and Nashville, Tennessee. Though highly trumpeted when it launched in 2010, the service didn't end up coming to many cities Google teased in its expansion plans. But its best service is still available in the first cities it arrived in, like Kansas City, where the contractors have unionized.

The unionization effort was recognized by the National Labor Relations Board, as Wired reported earlier. Nine of the 10 employees in the unit voted to unionize, after a campaign that lasted several months, during which, according to an AWU press release, they faced union-busting efforts from management -- that is, BDS Connected Solutions. AWU tweeted an audio recording allegedly containing the voices of a BDS Connected representative and a member of a legal firm BDS had hired, who both pressure workers not to unionize.

BDS Connected Solutions didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new union unit will bargain with its members' employer, BDS Connected Solutions, and not Google. The unit will be represented by the AWU, which is a part of the larger Communications Workers of America union organization. 

"We have many contracts with both unionized and non-union suppliers, and respect their employees' right to choose whether or not to join a union. The decision of these contractors to join the Communications Workers of America is a matter between the workers and their employer, BDS Solutions Group," said a statement provided by a Google spokesperson. 

Read more: Google Workers Explain Why They Unionized