Alphabet’s newly-formed workers union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice against Google data center services subcontractor Modis Engineering.
The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) alleges Modis and parent company Adecco is engaging in unfair labor practices by prohibiting employees from discussing wages, and that an employee was suspended from Google’s Moncks Corner South Carolina data center for doing so.
AWU says union member Elisabeth Shannon Wait was reportedly suspended after complaining on behalf of herself and other workers about conditions at the data center, including the prohibition on discussing salaries and a refusal by management to replace damaged water bottles for workers.
A Modis supervisor questioned Shannon about a personal Facebook post in which she’d expressed concerns about management’s failure to replace the water bottles and her support for the Alphabet Workers Union, the allegation states. The same supervisor previously sent an electronic message directing Wait not to discuss wages with her co-workers when she began asking questions about why some workers did not receive a promised bonus, the union said.
Google staff fight back
“These are the conditions that we face as TVCs [temps, vendors, or contractors]; we’re paid less, we’re laid off when needed, and we often don’t have access to safe, transparent working conditions,” said Wait. “Alphabet and Google can do better to ensure that all workers, including their contractors, are treated fairly. Google became a trillion dollar company last year. They can afford to treat us right.”
The charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleges that Modis management illegally prevented workers from discussing their wages and that joint employers Modis, Google, and Alphabet retaliated against Wait for posting publically about her treatment and for her union support, which was made public days before she was suspended.
“We, the Alphabet Workers Union, stand in full support of Shannon Wait and all Alphabet workers, who deserve safe and transparent working conditions,” said Parul Koul, executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union. “I want other TVCs to see this and know they have recourse if they see something illegal or unethical in their workplace. Alphabet’s segregated, two-tiered employment system will not stand in the way of worker solidarity. We will continue to support Shannon and all Alphabet workers against unjust working conditions and fear-mongering from management.”
Alphabet employees formed the AWU on 4 January, and is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company. It says it has over 800 members across the US and Canada from several Alphabet subsidiaries, TVCs (members of the temporary, vendor, and contractor workforce), as well as both tech and non-tech staff.