Google’s employees aren’t afraid to let out their opinions and pour out their minds. One of their recent demonstration on Friday showed that. The search giant employees accused the company of retaliating against some of it’s workers and showing lack of transparency despite many outcry against this.
A number of employees gathered for a rally right outside the company’s courtyard in San Francisco’s office near the the city’s waterfront. People who attended the events held up signs which says “Shame on Google”, “This is OUR company”, “Solidarity forever”. Some speakers stood on bench to address the large crowd.
What led to the protest was as a result of an administrative taken against two of Google’s own employees, Laurence Berland and Rebecca Rivers who were both placed on an indefinite leave earlier this month as the company investigates on an alleged policy violation which includes accessing documents and calendar information that Google says was outside the scope of their jobs. Activists at Google, though, said the move is punishment for workplace organizing.
“They want to intimidate everyone who disagrees with leadership,” Berland said at the rally. “They want us afraid. They want us silent.”
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Google workers at the protest urged the company to reinstate Berland and Rivers. At one point, the crowd chanted “Bring them back” and “Shut it down.”
During the protest, CNET tried to contact a spokeswoman who declined to comment. Although another spokeswoman had earlier this week defended the decision to pt the workers on leave adding that this would aide further investigations by the company.
Lately, there have been several allegations leading to employees protesting this year from issues with Artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon to Google’s work in China as well as how the company treats cases of sexual assault allegations.
This had led to some intense relationship between Google managements and some workers in recent week. This led to the company hiring a third-party firm with a history of anti-union efforts as Google deals with uprisings from workers.
The company last week said it would scale back its TGIF town hall meetings, a long-standing company tradition. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the meetings will be held monthly, instead of weekly or bi-weekly, because of a “coordinated effort” to leak comments made at the internal meetings.
“TGIF wasn’t perfect, but at least we got the chance to ask the questions,” Berland said.”They want to intimidate everyone who disagrees with leadership … They want us afraid. They want us silent.” Laurence Berland
Another thing that is leading to multiple issues within the company includes a Calendar tool which the company requires employees install on their computer. The software which is an extension of the Google Chrome browser is meant to fag meetings with more than 100 attendees or more than 10 rooms. This had led to activists within the company to accuse the company of spying on activists as well as organizing efforts. But the company denied this saying it was only trying to cut down on calendar spam.
Rivers was previously involved in creating a petition urging the company not to bid on contracts to work with the US Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On Friday, she was then placed on an indefinite leave while the company looks into her access of internal documents even though she said many of the questions Google’s investigation team asked her were about her creation of the petition.
“I’m proud of what I did,” she said. “And I believe everyone has a right to know what their work is being used for.”
Just last November, about 20,000 employees of the company walked out of the company’s offices around the world in response to how the company handled cases of sexual harassment. Six months later, employees held a sit-in to protest what they said was a “culture of retaliation” at Google. The company at the time denied the claim.
Employees at the rally also called out Google’s treatment of the company’s temps, vendors or contractors, called TVCs in Google parlance. Workers say TVCs, who make up about half of the company’s workforce, are treated like second-class citizens at the company, with wage disparities and less access to information. At the rally, one full-time employee read statements from three TVCs, who declined to speak at the rally themselves out of fear of retaliation. “It’s easier to fire us than an employee,” one TVC wrote.
Attendees at the rally also said Google has lost touch with its workforce.
“Leadership doesn’t know us anymore. They thought we would take this lying down,” Berland said. “I don’t know why they thought that.”