An administrative law judge ruled on January 7 that Google must submit a series of documents related to a secret management program to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to prevent employees from organizing and engaging in workplace activism. was established for.
Judge Paul Bogas was appointed by the NLRB as a special master to review documents related to a program called Project Vivian, which was run between late 2018 and early 2020 by senior executives at the giant tech company .
The document is exclusively from Google as well as its parent company Alphabet, Inc. and IRI Consultants, a company known for its anti-corporate union strategies. The campaign by Google management was a response to activist protests and organized efforts that began in 2018.
Judge Bogas’ ruling states that Google cannot use attorney-client privilege as a means to conceal documents submitted by the NLRB in a case filed by the agency in December 2020. The case involved illegal firing and surveillance of the employees involved. In campaigns to change company policies and in efforts to organize other employees.
In his ruling, the judge called Google’s attempt to block the release of 180 documents a “widespread claim” that “gives it, altruistically, an overreach”. In all, Bogas has ordered Silicon Valley Tech Corporation to turn over more than 1,500 documents linked to its communications with IRI Consultants and that Google had logged in as “privileged.”
The judge said that Google’s argument that it has the authority to withdraw these documents was not persuasive because the relationship with IRI Consultants involved communications and messages and was not legal advice.
In one of the documents the company claimed was protected by attorney-client privacy, Google’s director of employment law Michael Pfeil described Project Vivian’s mission to “engage employees more positively and convince them that Unions suck”.
Showing that Google executives saw their efforts in the tech industry as trend-setting, the judge also described evidence in the documents that a Google attorney proposed “finding a respected voice to publish an oped” Which describes what a federated tech workplace looks like, and doesn’t offer advice to employees of FB (Facebook), MSFT (Microsoft), Amazon, and Google (sic).
The Bogas report also showed that Google’s director of human resources, Cara Silverstein, said she liked the idea of OpEd but that it should be executed so that “there is no fingerprint and there is no Google specific.”
Documents show that the decision to hire IRI Consultants was taken not by the company’s lawyers but by executives such as Silverstein and Daniel Brown, Google’s vice president of employee engagement.
IRI Consultants was founded in 1979 and has offices in 31 US states and specializes in corporate labor relations and employee communications. Among the services provided by the firm are union vulnerability assessments and labor campaigns. A feature blog post on the firm’s website is titled “The Resurgence of Labor’s Greatest Threat – The Strike.”
The NLRB case stems from the firing of three employees by Google in 2019 for their organizing activities. On May 5, 2021, the NLRB ruled that Sophie Waldman, Rebecca Rivers and Paul Duke had been released by the company in retaliation for their activism. In December 2020, the agency ruled that Google had illegally spied and then terminated employees Lawrence Berland and Katherine Spears in 2019.
The company said the dismissal was “a disciplinary action taken against employees who abused their privileged access to our security tools or internal systems such as coworkers’ calendars.” Workers ensured that the documents they accessed to conduct their organizing activities were accessible to all engineers within the firm and only later classified as “need to know” by management Were.
As previously reported here on WSWS, a group of Google engineers announced the formation of the Alphabet Workers Union on January 4, 2021. The union, which was established with the support of the Communications Workers of America, has yet to organize an official. The NLRB polls on Google Workplaces, and is not recognized by the company as a bargaining agent.
As we explained in the union organizing campaign at Amazon, Google’s current opposition to unionization campaigns by AFL-CIO-affiliated organizations is a strategic question for the corporation. At this point, having an official labor union within a $1.8 trillion corporation cuts into the current financial and strategic plans of Google and Alphabet, Inc.
However, in situations where technical workers and engineers begin to put forward their demands, the company will quickly adapt to such a situation and proceed to use a union for its own purposes. For their part, America’s communications activists and AFL-CIOs will voluntarily cooperate with the tech monopolist to further their right-wing orientation to suppress demands from Google workers in exchange for automatic dues collection and audience expansion. Democratic Party Politics and Economic Nationalism.
Google employees and employees throughout Silicon Valley and high-tech industries should learn lessons from the past struggles of workers trapped inside unions such as the CWA in the telecommunications industries. For decades, employees of Verizon, AT&T and other corporations in the telecommunications sector have been duped by CWAs and even when they have gone on strike, their struggles have been isolated and closed. The workers have been told that they have no option but to liquidate their jobs, wages, benefits and working conditions as demanded by the corporations.
Google employees have every right to fight harassment from the company and demand that their rights be protected. However, regardless of whether the victory in the cases before the NLRB resulted in union approval or not, the task before workers remains the same: the need to create rank-and-file organizations of struggle that are independent of both corporations and tech giants. Unions based on the development of a socialist political movement of the entire working class with the aim of converting them into public utilities.