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Alphabet Workers Union alleges contract workers were silenced about pay

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Alphabet Workers Union
A pedestrian walks past directional signage at the Google campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.'s Google. At its center is a bold claim: Google colluded with archrival Facebook Inc. in an illegal deal to manipulate auctions for online advertising, an industry the two companies dominate.

According to a complaint from the Alphabet Workers Union, Google contract workers were banned from discussing their pay, and one was suspended for her labour activism.

The union accused Google vendor Adecco of breaching US labour law by seeking to muzzle workers in a Thursday filing with the National Labor Relations Board. According to the lawsuit, management prevented workers at a data centre in South Carolina from discussing their salaries. According to the group, the managers have suspended a data technician because of a pro-union Facebook post.

The union lodged a lawsuit against the Google parent Alphabet Inc and Adecco divisions. It is alleging that the internet giant is a “joint employer”-a corporation with ample power over a group of employees to be legally responsible for their care. Google and Adecco Group AG did not respond to requests for comment immediately.

In an interview, the technician, Shannon Wait, said that her Facebook post clarified that she had entered the union to take on the subcontracted employees’ demeaning treatment. For example, the failure to replace missing water bottles. When they need them, Google’s direct employees are given new ones, she said.

We are Google’s Backbone

Throughout the pandemic, Wait said she worked full time performing physically demanding tasks to keep the servers that Google depends on running. “We are Google’s backbone,” she said. We do the hard work.” She said the day after she posted her message, she was called into a management virtual meeting and told that as a “security risk” she was being suspended and investigated.”

Wait’s complaint to the Labor Board is the first one filed by the Alphabet Employees Union since the group was officially unveiled last month. To date, about 800 Google staff and contract employees have been signed up as members by AWU, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America.

The organisation is not pursuing collective bargaining with Alphabet management, which would be hard for contract employees to secure under US labour laws. Instead, it aims to use direct action and demonstrations to force reforms to the business that has been roiled by workers’ revolts over topics. For example, military contracts and sexual harassment in recent years.

Another long-running subject of contention has been the handling of subcontracted employees and independent contractors. They became the bulk of Alphabet’s global workforce in 2018.

Wait’s experience represents a “massive double standard” between the care of Alphabet’s direct workers and the contract staff who work side-by-side with them, said Google software engineer Parul Koul, the executive chair of the union. “They have a duty to ensure that people who do really mission-critical work for the organisation are treated fairly”. She said.

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Alphabet union alleges contract workers were silenced about pay

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