Google has reportedly been urging the U.S. government to “limit protection” for its protesting employees, allegedly attempting to quell employee organizing efforts via company email, following several large protests over alleged company protection of sexual harassers.
According to Bloomberg, the company “has been quietly urging the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online,” and undo the right for employees to organize “on their employee email systems.”
“During the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board broadened employees’ rights to use their workplace email system to organize around issues on the job. In a 2014 case, Purple Communications, the agency restricted companies from punishing employees for using their workplace email systems for activities like circulating petitions or fomenting walkouts, as well as trying to form a union,” Bloomberg reported. “In filings in May 2017 and November 2018, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, Alphabet Inc.’s Google urged the National Labor Relations Board to undo that precedent.”
Colin McMillen, a Google employee who took part in a November protest against Google’s response to sexual harassment, claimed the change would “have a huge chilling effect.”
“It demonstrates that Google leadership is not operating in good faith,” he proclaimed. “They can have a town hall and try to say soothing words and get people to not want to quit, but then if in the background they’re not just rejecting carrying out most of the demands of the walkout, but also trying to tamp down our ability to even coordinate and talk to each other about these issues, that’s extremely concerning.”
In November, thousands of Google employees protested against the company in mass walkouts at offices around the world, including New York City, Mountain View, London, Dublin, Berlin, Singapore, and Toronto.
The employees were protesting Google’s alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct and harassment at the company.
Google allegedly gave former executive Andy Rubin a “hero’s farewell” and a “$90 million exit package,” following complaints of sexual misconduct against him, despite concluding that the allegations were “credible.”
Last week, it was reported that Google employees were also planning to launch a campaign to pressure Google and other Silicon Valley companies into changing their harassment policies.
Sexual misconduct isn’t the only issue which Google employees have been organizing over, however, with some Google employees protesting over the company’s development of a censored Chinese search app in partnership with the Chinese government.
Several employees have quit the company in protest over the Chinese project, codenamed Project Dragonfly.