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The Pancake of Heaven!

Google Settles Unionbusting Charges

The company was accused of suspending a worker for joining the Alphabet Workers Union

Brian Young's picture
Apr 01, 2021

Google, their parent company Alphabet, and a contractor Modis have reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over an unfair labor practice charge that was filed after a worker was suspended for supporting a union effort.

The worker, Shannon Wait, worked at a Google data center in South Carolina where she was a contractor for Modis. Wait is a data center technician and a member of the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU). As a part of the settlement, the NLRB ordered the company to reinstate Wait which the union says happened just a week after they filed the unfair labor practice charge. Alphabet and Modis were also ordered to post notices telling employees that they have the right to join, form, or assist a union, discuss pay and working conditions and that they will not face punishment for doing so. The companies also must post a notice that Wait’s suspension has been rescinded, removed from her personnel file, and will not be used against her in any way.

The settlement, which was approved at the end of March, represents the first victory for AWU. As UCOMM previously reported AWU is a minority union that has formed to organize people who work for Alphabet and their contractors. They are affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). They currently claim to have over 800 members. The union says it took less than two months for Alphabet and Modis to reach a settlement.

“I’m ecstatic at this settlement, it’s a huge win for me and all contract employees at Google and other Alphabet companies,” said Shannon Wait, a data center technician, and Alphabet Workers Union member. “It’s far too easy for contractors like Modis to make us believe that we aren’t allowed to publicly discuss our working conditions or join unions, and Alphabet and Google turn a blind eye to this gaslighting. Now, because I had the support of my union to call them out on it, they’ll be forced to inform us all of our rights.”

As Google has grown bigger, absorbed more companies, and become Alphabet, the company has relied more and more on temporary, vendor, or contract (TVC) staff like Wait. AWU says that this has resulted in a two-tiered workforce where Alphabet workers are paid well, but TVC’s are paid less, have access to less generous benefits, and suffer greater workplace disparities. For example, Wait was told that she couldn’t get a replacement Google-branded water bottle even though she works replacing heavy computer parts in a hot data center. Meanwhile, Google employees are easily given as many free Google water bottles as they want. AWU is hoping to break down that disparity by organizing both full-time Alphabet workers and TVCs alike so that they can get more equitable treatment for both types of workers.

“This is an impressive and quick victory for the Alphabet Workers Union and for all Alphabet contractors,” said Don Trementozzi, the president of CWA Local 1400, the local that AWU is a part of. “A union’s job is to protect its members, stand up against unethical behavior by their bosses, and ensure workers going forward know their rights. That’s what the Alphabet workers did here, and I’m proud of Shannon and all our union’s members.”

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