Articles

The constitution of our union

This is the Easy Version of the Articles. The full version of the Articles is also available as a PDF.

Who We Are 

Alphabet Workers Union logo

We are the Alphabet Workers Union. We are a group focused on advancing and defending the interests of the workers. We promote solidarity, democracy, and social and economic justice in the workplace, our communities, and society. We are a part of Local 1400 of the Communications Workers of America. They are a more established local of CWA who are helping us get our start. We plan to work with them until we have learned enough to strategically run our own local, at which point we will charter our own local. Consequently and for the time being, we are also subject to the bylaws of 1400 and the CWA constitution. Membership is available to any worker employed by Alphabet or within its network of subsidiary and vendor companies, throughout the United States of America and Canada.

Membership 

Membership in AWU is available to any worker employed by Alphabet or within its network of subsidiary and vendor companies, throughout the United States of America and Canada. Approval of membership will not be made based on craft, skill, age, race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs or affiliation, disability, immigration status, or any other protected characteristic. Membership is also available to those in the process of contesting their firing.

Members in good standing who retire or otherwise leave our community of interest may join the retiree council of Local 1400 for a one time fee of $25 and may continue to participate in some AWU activities.

AWU members vote on: 

AWU Members + CWA Local 1400 Executive Board vote on: 

CWA Local 1400 Members (including AWU) vote on: 

AWU is large enough to have significant democratic power within Local 1400, and the Local 1400 Executive Board has committed to allowing us to choose our own path for organizing Alphabet.

Members can also write referendums to be presented to the entire membership for a vote. In order to get a vote on a referendum, a petition containing signatures from at least 10% of current members must be sent to the Election Committee. The Election Committee will then be responsible for ensuring all members are informed of the referendum and have sufficient time to vote on the matter in question. Subsequently, those decisions will govern the actions of the Executive Council, the Steering Committee and all other bodies of AWU.

Referendums can be submitted on a wide variety of topics. Referendums can be used to:

Assemblies 

Each year, we will have an Annual Assembly where delegates representing each of the Chapters of AWU can come together to discuss important matters. We will have a system set up to allow people to propose topics, and vote up or down different topics for discussion. Minutes from each Assembly will be sent out to the membership within 5 days of it completing.

If an issue is too complicated to be decided by a simple referendum, members can instead request that delegates meet for a Special Assembly. This requires a petition signed by 20% of the current members, sent to the Election Committee. These Special Assemblies, in addition to the Annual Assembly once a year, will be a meeting of delegates from every Chapter to vote on AWU issues.

Delegates 

Each year, based on the sizes of the Chapters, each Chapter will told how many delegates they get to send to Assemblies and how many votes their delegates will have. This is done to ensure the both Annual and Special Assemblies can run smoothly. There will be a limit of no more than 100 total delegates sent to each Assembly. We set the limit of 100 delegates to ensure that we can actually run these meetings efficiently. We do not feel confident in any methods of getting decisions made with more than 100 people in a room. As such, we felt it would be appropriate to limit the total size of that meeting to 100 people, chosen by the membership to represent their concerns. Each Chapter will be allocated delegates and votes based on the size of the Chapter’s membership.

Ideally, each Chapter will vote on and select a new set of delegates for each Assembly to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take on this role. We will also do everything we can to ensure we address any accessibility concerns, so that no one is excluded from consideration for being a delegate. To account for unforeseen circumstances, the Articles include a requirement that at least 1 alternate delegate is selected for each chapter who can take the place of a delegate from their chapter who is unable to attend. In addition, if only a subset of delegates from a chapter is able to attend even with the alternate the attending delegates will vote with the full power of the chapter.

Joining AWU 

If you are interested in joining AWU, apply to Local 1400. They will forward your information to the AWU membership committee and confirm your information so you can join. If you need financial support, please let the Executive Council know.

Leaving AWU 

Any member can decide to resign from AWU by sending their intent to leave, in writing, to the Local 1400 Membership Committee or a member of the Local 1400 Executive Board.

AWU only works by us all working together. If a member has caused enough harm that a large number of people feel uncomfortable with them continuing to be a member, the problematic member can have their membership revoked. This would take 10% of the membership signing a proposed referendum to have it presented to the full membership, and then a >50% majority voting to block the prospective member. This should only happen when the majority of the membership can agree that the member is harmful. Otherwise, it is our responsibility to make sure we keep AWU as inclusive as possible to ensure everyone gets a voice. In addition, the membership may compose rules regarding what constitutes a member in good standing and violations of those rules would go through a trial and appeals process.

Managers 

The question of how to best include managers is a complex one and one that the Articles working group didn’t feel comfortable defining without more active participation from the rest of the membership. As such, they only included two restrictions around managers. First, managers cannot be Shop Stewards, to ensure people don’t have to look to someone in their reporting chain as their primary point of contact in AWU. Second, any dispute between a manager and a regular employee must be mediated by someone not from their Workplace Unit. Beyond this, the Articles Committee decided to leave it to be a decision made by the Membership Committee.

Member Data 

In preparation for and during AWU activities, we may collect a variety of data about individuals. This includes information filled out in forms, information obtained while working through a grievance process, or information gathered during other member participation. It is very important to us to keep this data private. We will ensure this data is not shared outside of Local 1400 except as required by administrative processes. The Executive Council, the Local 1400 Executive Board and Local 1400 staff will work to ensure we keep member data confidential and will keep this as a priority.

AWU Structure 

Diagram 1: The Structure of the Union

Meetings 

A quick note on meetings. The Articles set up particular rules for how meetings of these different groups need to be run. This is specifically for meetings that focus on making decisions for AWU. If any meeting is going to make an important decision, it is important that all the relevant parties are present and are able to speak up and contribute in the meeting. This, however, is not meant to put any restrictions on when people can get together to discuss issues. The Articles Committee expects people to be in communication with others in their groups and across groups very often and doesn’t want to restrict that communication. The Articles are only focused on when a meeting begins making decisions, and all of the rules included should be seen in that light.

Membership 

In all matters, decisions made by the collective membership in referendums are the final word on that matter. All roles and committees answer to the membership and all decisions must be made based on the desires of the members. We intentionally set things up so that members can make any changes regardless of who the current elected officials are. All meetings of the committees and the Executive Council are open to all members for observing, with the exception of executive sessions to discuss sensitive matters such as the details of harassment claims.

Executive Council 

In order to ensure that AWU is able to operate smoothly and respond quickly to issues that come up, we have an Executive Council. The Executive Council will have regular meetings and authority to make certain decisions about the function of Work Committees, Workplace Units, and Chapters. The Executive Council will have at least 7 members, which will include the following Chairs:

Steering Committee 

To make sure we can get broad input in planning out our campaigns and making policy decisions on how AWU will behave, there is a Steering Committee. This Committee will use ranked choice voting to decide on issues that come up. All members may attend, but only members with the following roles will vote on the matters discussed:

Distinctions between the Steering Committee and the Executive Council 

The Steering Committee is where most broad, strategic decisions get made. This is meant to be a representative group to ensure that the policies and strategies of AWU are continually adapting based on our changing circumstances. On the other hand, the Executive Council is responsible for quick decisions, times when we need to make a quick determination on how to best apply the agreed upon polices and strategies.

Workplace Units 

Workplace Units are the foundational building block of AWU. Each is a group of members who are all part of the same department, team, product area, or other similar organizational grouping. Any group of 5 AWU members from the same organizational unit can request to form a Workplace Unit. These can be approved by the Executive Council or by a referendum. An AWU member can belong to multiple Workplace Units. These Units allow members to meet to discuss issues relevant to their particular unit to plan out collective actions. Workplace Units may be formed, disbanded, or otherwise reorganized as requested by a majority vote of the affected members and approved by the Executive Council. Workplace Units have two elected roles:

Chapters 

Chapters are groups of workers who all reside in the same geographic location. Chapters must be chartered which can be done by a Membership Referendum, a decision made at a Assembly, or by the Executive Council. Each Chapter has an Organizing Committee responsible for focusing on growth of the Chapter. Additionally, each Chapter has the following roles:

Diagram 2: How Chapters and Workplace Units Relate

Work Committees 

Work committees are groups of members who come together to discuss and plan around specific concerns. A work committee can be created by a membership referendum, a decision at a Assembly, or by the Executive Council. Any member may join a work committee, though a Referendum a decision by the Executive Council, or the Local 1400 Executive Board can revoke an individual’s membership in the work committee. Work committees can be be created around any subject, but the following work committees will always exist:

Additionally, we have defined the following work committees as required by the CWA constitution:

Elected Roles 

All elected roles will be handled by the Elections Committee, and the Articles require all elections to use the Warren Single Transferable Vote system. The sole exception to this is the executive council, those elections will be conducted by the Local 1400 Election Committee. This is our attempt at ensuring we give everyone a full opportunity to have their voices heard. Anyone in an elected position may be recalled from their position by a majority vote of those they are supposed to represent. In some particular cases, we added other methods of recall as well to ensure we don’t concentrate too much power in any small group.

Finances 

We are building an active and growing group to mobilize large numbers of Alphabet workers. Dues cover costs like software infrastructure, printed material and swag, travel and expenses for assemblies, legal support, training and events, a strike fund, and paid staff to coordinate the work. There are also contributions to CWA 1400 and the CWA international union to cover required costs, but this is a relatively small portion of the dues collected from Alphabet workers.

Local 1400 will be have the legal responsibility of managing our money until we are ready to break off from them. However, they have made it clear that Alphabet workers will control the funds from the dues we pay. Each year, AWU will be required to put together an annual budget. The Articles require this to be ratified in an assembly or referendum to ensure we get appropriate input in how we do this. Our funds come from member dues, so AWU expects the Executive Council to make decisions around dues so as to give AWU a reasonable set of funds to work with. Thus, the Articles Working Group intentionally left specifics about dues out of the Articles. To ensure that we don’t lose our focus, we require in the Articles that at least 50% of every budget is dedicated to organizing efforts.

Once the budget is set, the Executive Council is responsible for allocating the funds according to these budgets. We want to keep this process as transparent as possible, so we allow a referendum, assembly, the Executive Council, or any Unit Committee to request a full account of all receipts and expenditures from any member or body of members.

This process requires people to actually suspect a problem and request the receipts, so we also decided it would be valuable to have a set of people continually tracking our spending. To this end, we also included that the Executive Council will appoint a Finance & Audit Committee. We decided appointing this committee would be better to keep it from frequently changing with each election. We would prefer to have well-trained people continuously working on this rather than replacing them every year. A strict majority of this Committee must be people who are not on the Executive Council, and the Executive Council does not have the ability to directly remove members from this Committee. This committee is expected to monitor expenses and income, make financial and budgetary recommendations to the Executive Council, and to perform or oversee an audit of the AWU’s finances at the end of the fiscal year. They are also authorized to audit the Executive Council’s uses of executive sessions.

AWU Relationship with CWA Local 1400 

When we start out, AWU will be a part of CWA Local 1400, and all AWU members will be CWA Local 1400 members. Local 1400 will guide and assist AWU in getting us on our feet, and will be responsible for all of the legal responsibilities that come with being a full Local. They will also process dues and handle AWU bank accounts and membership records. We are bound by CWA Local 1400 bylaws. CWA Local 1400 has agreed to an exception to their bylaws to set our dues at 1%, instead of the 1.6% that is in their current bylaws.

AWU has significant influence within CWA Local 1400. As of December 2020, Local 1400 had around 900 members. AWU will increase that number significantly. In addition to normal membership democratic power, AWU members will also select one member of the CWA Local 1400 executive board.

Our eventual goal is for AWU to become its own Local separate from 1400, at which point our Articles will become true bylaws. At that point we will become fully responsible for all of the responsibilities of being a CWA Local, legal and otherwise. Until we are ready to stand on our own, 1400 will be helping us in administering AWU.

Conclusion 

AWU seeks to promote social good in our workplace, as well as for the good of all the users who interact with our products, and the communities we impact. We see it as our role to ensure the company grows and makes decision in a healthy way. It is important to note that healthy growth requires flexibility. This is why we didn’t cover every topic in the Articles. Some issues need to be decided as we grow. We want AWU to be able to thoughtfully guide the direction of Alphabet. We are the workers who make up Alphabet, and we use shared communication and collective action to ensure our company does all that it can to not be evil.

We are Alphabet Workers who stand united.

Join us FAQ