Google data center contractors file labor grievances • The Register

A union for Alphabet workers has filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Google and its contractors over the treatment of tech workers at the search giant’s US data centers.

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) filed two unfair labor practice complaints on Oct. 5 on behalf of several employees, alleging there is a “culture of harassment” against temporary workers, vendors and contract workers with ties to collective action.

The first file alleges that two security officers at Google data centers in North and South Carolina — both working for Google contractor Allied Universal — had their security clearances revoked after participating in what the union described as a “campaign to win back the base.” “Involved were benefits guaranteed by Google to all extended workers,” alleging that the workers “were denied access to their livelihoods in retaliation for organizing.”

The union claims that when Allied Universal was hired to replace a former Google data center security contractor, workers were reportedly told they were no longer entitled to the minimum standard of benefits that Google guarantees to all extended workers. Google uses the term “extended workforce” to refer to contractors, contract workers, and independent companies working for the search giant.

AWU says workers “collectively won back” those benefits earlier this month after petitioning both Allied Universal and Google, though the NLRB grievance stands. The workers allege the two companies violated Section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act by “discriminating against employees because of their union activities or sympathies.”

In the second case, according to the AWU, a data technician from Google’s contract partner Modis was harassed and intimidated after trying to organize his colleagues.

In both filings, Google is accused alongside the relevant contractor company.

Two other workers, also named in the second indictment, are said to have quit their pay and missed contract extensions after participating in “protected, concerted activities to discuss working conditions”. If true, these would also be Section 8 violations – also known as “unfair labor practices” (ULPs) – and the allegations include retaliation, coercive statements (threats, promises of benefits, etc.) and dismissal.

In a statement, Google’s software engineer Parul Koul, chief executive officer of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, said: “Google can and must take steps to ensure that every worker, including everyone [temps, vendor, and contract] Workers will not face retaliation in the workplace for exercising their right to organize.”

We have reached out to Google, AWU and Google contractors Allied Universal and Adecco Group subsidiary Modis, both of whom provide data center staff to Google, for comment.

In a previous NLRB complaint against Modis in February 2021, contract workers claimed they were barred from speaking about wages and working conditions – which is perfectly acceptable under US law. In this case, a bilateral settlement agreement was submitted as early as next month.

Amazon has also fended off attempts by its workers to unionize. She is accused of harassing union organizers, according to a class-action complaint filed earlier this month, for which she was due to file a response last week. Workers allege that in the months leading up to the failed union attempt in May, they were harassed at their Staten Island warehouse, LDJ5, for, among other things, showing pro-union material in their free time.

Amazon told us at the time, “These allegations are completely unfounded and we look forward to showing that through the trial.”

At the time of writing, the most recent NLRB complaint against Amazon — in which a worker alleges he violated Section 8 of the Act by allegedly illegally monitoring workers — was filed on October 11.

Meanwhile, Amazon drivers in Japan recently formed a union to protect them from AI-generated route plans that they say cannot be completed within the deadlines set for them by Amazon. ® Google data center contractors file labor grievances • The Register

Rick Schindler

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