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Google Settles Lawsuit with Engineers who Attempted to Unionize

Google Settles Lawsuit with Engineers who Attempted to Unionize
Source: NPR

According to Motherboard, Google has reached an agreement with six engineers over charges that the business suppressed employees’ attempts to organize. The terms of the deal are confidential, however four of the workers who were reportedly sacked in reprisal for their labor activity in 2019 will not be restored, while one will continue to work for the internet giant.

Rebecca Rivers, Laurence Berland, Paul Duke, and Sophie Waldman, four Google workers, brought labor charges against the corporation in 2019 after the company claimed they were fired for violating its data security regulations. Prior to their dismissal, they organized a protest against some of Google’s morally dubious decisions, such as the company’s collaboration with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), despite the agency’s treatment of immigrants and implementation of family separation policy.

Last year, Berland and Google reached an agreement.

“Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activity,” said Kathryn Spiers, who was dismissed shortly after for making internal pop-ups. When employees browsed Google’s internal employee standards or went to the website of IRI Consultants, an anti-union outfit Google hired, the pop-up would display. Spiers was dismissed, according to Google, for failing to obtain necessary clearance for the code she used to construct the notice.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Google in 2020, alleging that the business unlawfully spied on Berland and Spiers before terminating them, and that Waldman, Rivers, and Duke were fired in violation of labor rules. Last year, the NLRB brought Google to trial, and throughout the two-year legal struggle, the NLRB discovered something dubbed Project Vivian, Google’s secret union-busting program.

In January, a judge ordered Google to turn over further internal papers that it had tried to keep hidden by invoking attorney-client privilege.

“It took more than two years of battling.” Over a period of two years, I’ve been living in a near-constant torment. But, finally, it’s finished,” Rivers wrote in a tweet. “It’s difficult and painful to fight for workers’ rights, but witnessing the influence we’ve had on the Labor Organizing movement is worth it.”

Waldman, Rivers, and Duke filed a second complaint against Google in November, claiming that they were contractually bound to obey the company’s renowned “don’t be evil” philosophy, which is why they objected to Google’s deal with the CBP. According to The New York Times, this case was dismissed as part of the deal.

“I’m very proud of what my clients accomplished: they fought aggressively — and successfully — in exposing Google’s plan, which was orchestrated at the highest level of internal management to quell union organizing and prevent its employees from speaking out about matters that were simultaneously of work place and global concern,”

Laurie Burgess, the employee’s attorney, said in a statement to The Verge. “I am convinced that my client’s achievement here — essentially bringing Google to its knees — will inspire other Googlers, as well as employees in other sectors, to pick up the baton and continue the fight to hold companies responsible.”