Statement from Alphabet Workers Union-CWA in support of CA bill SB 403 to ban caste discrimination


Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 11:00AM PT

Press contact: [email protected]

(Mountain View, California)—Alphabet Workers Union-Communication Workers of America (AWU-CWA) stands in support of the historic proposed legislation to enshrining caste as a protected class in California. As one of the first and largest unions in the tech sector, AWU-CWA recognizes that caste is a global civil rights and a labor issue.

Workers of AWU-CWA have been organizing against caste discrimination within Alphabet and pushing the company to add caste protections to its global code of conduct. This is why, we stood in strong support of a historic law passed by Seattle to ban caste discrimination in the city earlier this year. At Alphabet, caste discrimination has become a significant issue for our rank and file members given its prevalence at Alphabet. Alphabet has created a hostile work environment for caste-oppressed workers and allies by canceling a talk that Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs was scheduled to give, on the topic of caste in newsrooms. The talk was canceled as opponents of caste equity at Alphabet spread discriminatory and casteist disinformation about Equality Labs and Thenmozhi herself, who comes from an oppressed-caste background. The organizer, Tanuja Gupta was retaliated against (leading to her resignation) for furthering the cause of caste equity at the workplace. Following this incident, AWU-CWA members demanded caste be added as a protected category globally, however, Alphabet leadership has refused to do so. Alphabet is legally mandated to prohibit caste-based discrimination in India, so it lists caste as a protected category anti-discrimination policy there. This is why the California ordinance matters. Google currently has over 60,000 Full time workers (over 80,000 including contractors) in the state of California. This ordinance would legally bind all private institutions in California to enforce caste based protections in their workplaces, including Alphabet which is classified as a major employer in California.

“As California considers this historic step to address this civil rights issue and address the discrimination that caste-oppressed citizens and workers face in the state, we urge our elected officials to weigh in on the side of human, civil, gender and worker rights and vote yes on SB 403 to ensure California is safe and welcoming for all. We also condemn any attacks on caste oppressed workers and civil rights organizations demanding legal rights and advocating against discrimination. These attacks are not unlike the gaslighting that workers face whenever they take on management and we urge you to continue to create safe space for all protected classes of people coming to break the silence on caste” said Alex Gorowara, Software Engineer at Verily and member of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA.

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