Tilly on Barriers Facing Union Organizing in Tech

Urban Planning Chair Chris Tilly spoke to KQED about the obstacles facing Silicon Valley workers who want to unionize. In recent years, tech employees have protested lack of diversity, mishandling of sexual harassment claims, and the second-class treatment of temporary workers and contractors. White-collar tech employees recently formed Alphabet Workers Union at the parent company of Google. According to Tilly, Silicon Valley companies such as Google have done a lot to make it difficult for workers to form unions. “There are a lot of barriers to building worker solidarity within Google,” he said. “Google and other tech companies have been effective at fissuring workers, hiring some as contractors, others as temps and also outsourcing labor around the globe,” Tilly explained. Workers are physically separated and have different employment statuses, including different wage and benefit packages, making it difficult to organize them around common goals.

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