Google Faces Controversy: Contract Staffers Lose Jobs Amid Unionization Efforts

K. C. Sabreena Basheer 04 Aug, 2023 • 3 min read

Tech giant Alphabet, the parent company of Google, finds itself embroiled in controversy as it terminates employment contracts for most Google Help workers attempting to unionize. The move has sparked outrage and accusations of violating federal labor laws that protect employees from retaliation for their unionization efforts. Let’s dive into the details of this unfolding situation and its potential implications for the future.

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Google's parent company Alphabet is in violation of labor law as it terminates employment contracts for most workers attempting to unionize.

Unionization Efforts Met with Resistance at Google

Over 70% of the proposed bargaining unit employees received disheartening news in July that their jobs were at risk. These workers, including writers, graphic designers, and launch coordinators responsible for creating content for Google, were located in Austin, Texas, the San Francisco Bay Area, and other parts of the U.S. In a live-streamed “town hall” meeting, they were informed of the job cuts without any opportunity for questions or comments.

Google Help workers lose jobs while attempting to unionize.
Source: The Guardian

Violation of Federal Labor Law

The Alphabet Workers Union alleges that Alphabet’s decision to terminate these contracts violates federal labor laws. These laws are in place to protect employees from retaliatory actions by employers in response to unionization efforts. The situation has escalated worker rights concerns and raised questions about Google’s commitment to fair labor practices.

Relationship Between Google and Contract Workers

The affected workers claim that Google indirectly employs them through Accenture and is their de facto employer. They have requested the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to recognize Google as a joint employer of Accenture’s workforce. This legal challenge further complicates the situation and could have significant implications for the broader contract worker landscape.

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Accenture’s Response

Accenture, the company that hired the contract workers on behalf of Google, announced its support for employees’ unionization efforts after the job cuts were made public. However, Accenture maintains that its workforce decisions were made independently, before any knowledge of potential union activity. The company finds itself caught in the middle of a dispute between Google and the affected workers.

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Prior Instances of Unionization

This is not the first time Alphabet contract workers have sought unionization. In April of this year, a group of Alphabet contract workers employed by Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. voted unanimously to unionize. The NLRB later ruled in favor of the workers, designating Alphabet as their joint employer. These prior instances underscore the growing call for better labor protections and workers’ rights in the tech industry.

Google Alphabet violates of labor law by terminating employment contracts for workers attempting to unionize.

Our Say

The recent termination of employment contracts for Google Help workers amid unionization efforts has thrown Alphabet into the spotlight. As allegations of labor law violations and joint employer status swirl, this situation has wider implications for treating contract workers and the future of unionization in the tech industry. With mounting pressure from advocacy groups and workers’ unions, Google and Alphabet will face increased scrutiny over their labor practices. As this story unfolds, it reminds us of the ongoing struggle for workers’ rights and fair treatment in the evolving landscape of the modern workforce.

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