Graduation Date

Winter 12-13-2019

Grading Professor

Greg David

Subject Concentration

Business & Economics

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


For decades, technology companies have used temporary and contract workers to lower costs, creating a shadow workforce of thousands of indirect employees. That business model is now under threat.

In September 2019, 80 contract workers at Google’s Pittsburgh office voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers, the first time that white-collar tech workers in the U.S. have successfully organized with a union. These contractors are employees of HCL Technologies, an Indian multinational IT and consulting company that partners with Google around the world.

Tech and office workers face a different set of workplace issues from blue-collar and factory employees, which has led some to question whether traditional unions are a fit for the sector. Union organizers say issues of job insecurity, a lack of career mobility and poor benefits have made it necessary for today’s white-collar workers to use collective bargaining.

A unionized contractor workforce demanding better wages and benefits would threaten one of the sector’s major profit margin generators: the low-cost vendor worker.

Link to capstone website: .

PHOTO_Whateley_Daniel_Sequence#1.jpg (9618 kB)
Google’s Pittsburgh office in Bakery Square, a short walk from the Carnegie Library in East Liberty where its contract workers voted to unionize on September 24, 2019. (Dan Whateley)

PHOTO_Whateley_Daniel_Sequence#2.jpg (3842 kB)
Joshua Borden (center) celebrates with HCL colleagues (left to right) Stefan Sidelnick, Allie Hosinski, Johanne Rokholt, Ben Gwin, Gabrielle Norton-Moore and United Steelworkers organizer, Damon Di Cicco outside the Carnegie Library in East Liberty, Pittsburgh on September 24, 2019. (Dan Whateley)

PHOTO_Whateley_Daniel_Sequence#3.jpg (3328 kB)
Isabel Mills (center) celebrates with HCL colleagues and United Steelworkers organizers outside the Carnegie Library in East Liberty, Pittsburgh on September 24, 2019. (Dan Whateley)

VIDEO_Whateley_Daniel.mp4 (7898 kB)
The Life of a Contract Worker at Google (Dan Whateley)

Included in

Unions Commons


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