Care for Your Employees (So They Won’t Unionize)

Does your organization take good care of your employees? Do you offer them competitive wages and benefits? If you don’t, you may want to rethink that. Typically, technical workers don’t organize to join a union. Unionizing is seen more for blue-collar workers. But that’s just what happened recently to a group of Google tech contractors.

Currently, the contractor’s pay wages are not competitive with those of full-time permanent employees at Google, and they aren’t given any paid sick days (see our Cheat Sheet for Paid Sick Leave for state-by-state legal requirements). These workers are tech professionals in Pittsburgh, who work at Google but as contract employees of Google. The workers are employed by the India-owned firm, HCL America. This small group of approximately 80 contract technical workers for Google, recently voted in favor of forming a union, potentially gaining leverage to seek pay and other benefits equivalent to those of direct employees of the tech giant. It’s likely this is the first time white-collar workers in the technology industry have done so. They voted to join the United Steelworkers, marking what could be a change in employee relations with tech. The workers will bargain with their employer, HCL America, not Google directly, but any increases in compensation and benefits could drive up Google’s costs.

There have been less and less unionized blue-collar workers. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that shows the slow takeover of collective labor by the professional and technical classes. These include schoolteachers, healthcare workers, skilled utility workers, journalists, screenwriters, college faculty and graduate students, media and entertainment professionals, and nonprofit employees. 1 All in all, more than 1 million professionals have joined unions in the past two decades, reaching an all-time high in 2018 of 6.18 million. The numbers of their blue-collar brethren, meanwhile, have plummeted by 3 million over the same period, according to numbers provided by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).2

That’s why the tech industry will likely be watching how things play out in Pittsburgh. The last thing that tech executives want is for these uncommon union efforts to start looking like a crusade.

ClearPath can help you design a solution pertaining to your contingent workers. We can help relieve this burden by outsourcing your back-office Human Resources and Payroll functions to our Employer of Record service. Contact us to learn more about how our expert personalized service can let you get back to focusing on your business goals. Work with a leader in the industry for outsourced Human Resources and Payroll functions associated with W-2 and 1099 contingent workers. Let ClearPath be the path to your peace of mind. For other questions about assessing your workforce or conducting a review of your current hiring processes, the ClearPath team can assist you.