Google Accused of Retaliating Against Employees for Exercising Their Right to Organize, Claims Union

**Alphabet Workers Union Accuses Google of Violating Labor Laws**

The Alphabet Workers Union, a labor union that represents Google employees, has accused the tech giant of violating federal labor law by retaliating against workers for organizing. In July, over 70% of the proposed bargaining unit, which includes writers, graphic designers, and launch coordinators responsible for creating content both internally and externally for Google, were informed that they would lose their jobs. The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, should be considered a “joint employer” alongside Accenture, the vendor that employs the workers.

**Retaliatory Job Cuts and Suspicious Timing**

Many of the affected workers believe that the decision to cut their jobs was retaliatory in nature. Anjail Muhammad, a writer with Accenture, expressed her concerns about the timing of the layoffs and the intent behind them. She stated that the timing was incredibly suspicious and that they were filing an unfair labor practice charge to hold Google and Accenture accountable for their behavior.

**Google and Accenture Respond**

Both Google and Accenture declined to provide an immediate comment on the matter. When Accenture announced the job cuts in July, the company spokesperson emphasized their support for their employees’ right to form or join unions. They clarified that the workforce decisions were made prior to any notification of potential union activity. On the other hand, Google stated in July that the company respects the workers’ rights but considers the matter of organizing as a relationship between the employees and their employer, Accenture.

**Layoffs and Replacement Training**

The affected workers, based in various locations across the United States, were informed about their job cuts during a livestreamed “town hall” event that did not allow for questions or comments. Subsequently, they received an email stating that the Content Creation team supporting Google was being adjusted to meet the needs of the client. The team would be reduced gradually until November, with the first round of terminations scheduled for August 7. Tahlia Kirk, a writer and team trainer, revealed that the layoffs would reduce the number of US-based Accenture employees working on the Google contract from around 130 to 40. She also mentioned that they were instructed to train their replacements from the Philippines and India. Kirk expressed confidence in their ability to win the union election, despite the reduced headcount.

**Alphabet’s Contract Staff Challenges**

This dispute is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding Alphabet’s responsibilities towards its extensive contract workforce. In 2018, contract staff became the majority of Alphabet’s global workforce. Another group of contract workers employed by Cognizant Technology Solutions to work on YouTube Music in Texas voted unanimously to unionize in April. In July, the NLRB members endorsed a ruling that Alphabet was a joint employer of those workers, necessitating collective bargaining with them. However, Alphabet maintains that it will refuse to negotiate with the workers, stating that they are not direct employees of the company. This issue is likely to be taken to federal appeals court.

**Google’s Control Over Workers’ Jobs**

Workers have disputed Google’s claim that it has little control over their jobs. Laura Greene, a multimedia team leader, stated that she spent most of her work week coordinating with full-time Google employees, creating internal documents for Alphabet executives, and utilizing Google’s proprietary systems and equipment. She emphasized her use of Google tech support for equipment-related issues. Complaints against Google filed with the NLRB are subject to investigation by regional officials, who will determine whether Alphabet should be considered a joint employer.

**Workers’ Concerns about Content Quality and Legal Rights**

The layoffs of the majority of the Content Creation team working on the Google contract have raised concerns about the potential impact on content quality. Tahlia Kirk believes that the loss of institutional knowledge and the rushed training of overseas workers to replace US employees will cause irreparable damage to the quality of the work. Kirk emphasized that unionizing is a federally protected right and that companies attempting to prevent their employees from voting in a union election are breaking the law.

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