Four ousted Google workers to file charges with federal labor board

Google’s decision last month to fire four longtime employees involved in worker activism has kicked off a firestorm of internal protest and public demonstrations.

Now, those four ousted workers say they are filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board, predicting the federal labor board will “confirm that Google acted unlawfully.”

A source familiar with their efforts told The Hill they plan to file the charges this week.

{mosads}In a Medium post on Tuesday morning, the Google workers, who were fired in recent weeks, urged their former colleagues and tech industry peers to fight back against their employers — some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world.

The blog post, signed by each of the workers, comes amid a wave of escalating tension between management and workers at Google. The workers have alleged that Google is systematically working to stifle any dissent within the company, including by hiring a public relations firm known for union-busting and changing its policies around accessing internal documents. Google has denied those allegations, insisting that it is not retaliating against any workers and fired the group for violating new data-security policies.

The group includes Laurence Berland, who spent 11 years at Google; Paul Duke, who was with the company for more than eight years; Rebecca Rivers, an employee of four years; and Sophie Waldman, who spent one year and 10 months at Google. The workers allege the company retaliated against them because they were all involved in worker activism at Google — pushing for better working conditions and pressing the company to make more ethical decisions.

“We come from different offices,” they wrote. “We have different roles, different managers, and different life stories. What brought us all together is that we’ve stepped up to help organize our colleagues, to work together for a better, safer, fairer and more ethical workplace.”

“But Google didn’t respond by honoring its values or abiding by the law,” the workers continued. “It responded like a large corporation more interested in revenue growth than in ensuring worker rights and ethical conduct. Last week, Google fired us for engaging in protected labor organizing.” 

A Google spokeswoman, however, said no one was dismissed for “raising concerns or debating the company’s activities.”

“We dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work,” the spokeswoman added in a statement to The Hill.

Google has faced a number of NLRB charges over the years and recently settled with the board over allegations that it suppressed its employees from speaking out in the workplace. Under the settlement, Google has posted notices reminding workers of their rights in its internal messaging boards.  

Over the past several years, Google workers have emerged at the forefront of the tech activist movement, a wave of protests by tech workers across the country against how they are treated and whether the companies they work for are acting ethically. 

In the Medium post, the workers encouraged tech workers to “organize, to join with your colleagues, and hold your bosses accountable.”

“Until we all come together in solidarity — for our workplace, for our communities, and for our world, nothing will change,” they wrote. “But every one of us knows what we need and what the world deserves, and together we can make a difference.”

–Updated at 11:42 a.m.

Tags Activism Google Lawsuit
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