Google Contractors Gain Pay Bump Thanks to Union, Still Not $15 Per Hour


Contractors at a company that employs raters who oversee training, testing and evaluation of Google’s search algorithm will soon get a pay raise, according to the union representing the employees.

Workers at Appen will see their pay increase from $10 an hour to $14.50, the Alphabet Workers Union-Communication Workers of America (AWU-CWA), the union representing salaried and contract workers within Google-parent Alphabet, said Wednesday. It’s still shy of the $15 an hour mark the AWU-CWA sought. Workers were informed they had won their first ever worker raise at RaterLabs, parent company to Appen, late last year.

“The work we do as raters for Google is critical to their success. Yet, since I started as a rater eight years ago, I have not received a single raise,” Michelle Curtis, an Alphabet contract worker with RaterLabs, said in a press release. Curtis said that the $14.50 hourly rate was a step forward, but not the $15 minimum set by Google for its extended workforce, nor does it include benefits. “We call on Google to ensure every worker receives their promised baseline benefits, and to hold Appen accountable for upholding their end up of that responsibility,” Curtis said.

The Alphabet Workers Union didn’t comment beyond its press release. Google and Appen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google makes a majority of its revenue from ads, fueled by its massive presence in online search. In the third quarter of 2022, the company posted $54.4 billion in advertising revenue. While engineers work to tweak Google’s search, it’s raters who comb through results and evaluate what’s best.

Unionization is seeing a larger trend within Big Tech, with Amazon workers forming the first union at one of its warehouses, game testers at Microsoft-owned ZeniMax forming the first union at the software giant and with the CWA filing a complaint last month against Apple alleging anti-union actions. Big Tech has been resistant to union action, with Amazon, Google and Apple employing aggressive techniques to push back against worker alliances. Big Tech has gone so far as to terminate outspoken employees, with Google having to settle years later.

President Joe Biden published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier Wednesday calling on Congress to pass legislation reining in abuses by Big Tech companies in regards to user privacy.

Appen provides rating services to Google, Facebook parent Meta and Amazon. While Google did see a 3% drop in earnings from the previous quarter, Appen has much greater losses. Last year, the firm saw an 84% drop in revenue, from $78.9 million to $13 million to $18 million, according to Reuters.


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