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Google contractors in Pittsburgh say a majority are unionizing

The company uses a massive contractor workforce

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

A group of Google contractors in Pittsburgh is moving to unionize, according to a statement released on August 29th.

About 90 employees work at a tech contractor for Google in the area called HCL, according to the statement, and 66 percent have signed union cards, indicating support for the plan. The employees are looking to unionize with United Steelworkers, an organization that represents about 850,000 workers. The Pittsburgh Association of Tech Professionals, a project from the union, has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on the effort.

Google’s treatment of its contract workforce has been an issue of controversy in the past year. The company relies on a massive group of contractors, temporary employees, and vendors, which are believed to outnumber full-time employees at the company. But those workers haven’t always received the same benefits as full-time employees.

The situation sparked protests at Google, and in April, the company agreed to require those workers to receive more benefits. The Pittsburgh workers would not be the first contract workers to unionize — others, including Silicon Valley security guards, have secured contracts in the past — but organization from tech contractors is rarer in the industry, and, if successful, it could lead to other efforts.

In the statement released yesterday, the union said the “90 employees work side-by-side with those of the giant corporation for far less compensation and few, if any, of the perks.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.