The United States National Labor Relations Board, a labor agency, filed a formal lawsuit against Google a year after the leading tech company fired several workers for speaking up against them.
As The Guardian's original report reveals, NLRB's complaint surfaced last Wednesday after a long-year worth of investigation. Several ex-employees who spoke up and publicly complained against Google's work with the US Customs and Border Protection unionized and filed the charges.
"Management and their union-busting cronies wanted to send that message, and the NLRB is now sending their own message: worker organizing is protected by law," said one of the ex-workers, Laurence Berland.
Google since then denied the accusation, believing that the employees were fired because of "violating data security." NLRB thinks that Google has violated the National Labor Relations Act 1935, which guarantees workers' right to unionize to improve their working conditions.
In November 2019, a group called the "Thanksgiving Four" lost their jobs at Google after speaking out during the protest.
Thanksgiving Four consists of Rebecca Rivers, Laurence Berland, and two other rally volunteers, who internally protested against Google's decision to work with the US Customs and Border Protection. CBP charged and "abused asylum seekers," "separated children from their families," and "illegally detained refugees," which ultimately led to 7 children deaths at the detention camps.
After the news broke out, more than 200 employees joined the public demonstration at Google's office in San Francisco to protest Google's decision to unlawfully firing Rivers and co.
As mentioned above, Google said that the employees repeatedly broke the company's security and safety rules. On the other side of the coin, NLRB believes that these ex-employees only accessed some essential tools for workers like calendars and meeting rooms to organize the protest better.
"I'm proud of what I did," said Rivers. "I believe everyone has the right to know what their work is used for."
Not the First Time
Following the accusation, Google rolled out a new rule prohibiting workers from seeing each other's calendars, which was believed to be a move to stop workers from unionizing.
Even then, the tech giant, which is now owned by Alphabet Inc, hired a notorious firm known for its union-busting efforts, IRI Consultant. As The New York Times reported, IRI Consultant helped the Los Angeles Film School back in 2010 fought a petition from teaching staff who wanted to unionize. The hiring was the culminating point of the tension between Google and its workers.
Google was the subject of employee activism in the past few years following the enormous sexual harassment scandal back in 2018.