About 80 tech contractors working for Google in Pittsburgh will join the United Steelworkers union after a majority voted for unionization, in the latest effort by the tech industry’s massive “shadow” workforce to secure improved wages and benefits.

Google uses contractors from a company called HCL Technologies, and last month, HCL tech workers at a Google office in the city announced their plan to unionize. The contractors said at the time that, despite working alongside full Google employees, they’d received only a few of the same benefits.

The workers planned to vote for unionization with the United Steelworkers union, or USW. In an announcement released today, the USW said a majority of the contractors had voted to unionize.

Google has faced criticism for its use of temporary, vendor, and contract workers, which outnumber full-time employees at the company, but may have significantly lower wages and fewer benefits. While some contractors in the tech industry, such as security guards, have voted to unionize before, a union of tech contractors is more rare. The successful union push could set the stage for more organizing efforts in the industry.

“We work with lots of partners, many of which have unionized workforces, and many of which don’t,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “As with all our partners, whether HCL’s employees unionize or not is between them and their employer. We’ll continue to partner with HCL.”

The unionization process is now set to move into the bargaining stage, as HCL workers negotiate with the company for a contract.

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“We deserve more respect, dignity and democracy in our relationship with our employer,” HCL worker Joshua Borden said in a statement. “We fought for a seat at the table, and today we won. We look forward to bargaining a contract that reflects our important contributions to HCL’s continuing success.”



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