Union Claims Google Illegally Terminated AI Contract Staff
The Alphabet Workers Union has dropped quite a bombshell, accusing the tech giant of some serious legal violations.
Here’s the scoop: Alphabet allegedly gave the boot to a whole bunch of Google Help workers as they were gearing up to unionize. And we’re not talking small numbers here; more than 70% of the team, including 118 writers, graphic designers, and launch coordinators, were told back in July that they’ll be losing their jobs.
The union says this move is a big no-no under federal labor law, which protects employees from retaliation for organizing. The jobs we’re talking about are the ones that make Google’s search engine and AI chatbot answers top-notch, and they’re actually contracted through Accenture Plc. But here’s where it gets sticky: the union argues that Alphabet should be considered the legal boss, too.
What does that mean? Well, if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agrees, Alphabet could be on the hook for how these workers are treated, and they might even have to negotiate with them if they decide to form a union.
One worker, Anjail Muhammad, who’s been told her writing gig with Accenture will be axed, minced no words about it. She said the timing of these job cuts “feels retaliatory” and called it “incredibly suspicious.” That’s why they’re taking this to the NLRB, aiming to hold both Google and Accenture accountable.
Accenture’s side of the story? They haven’t weighed in just yet. But when the job cuts were announced in July, they made it clear that they back their employees’ rights to unionize and said the decision to let workers go was made before anyone even mentioned potential union activity.
You know how sometimes in a movie, things really start to heat up just when you think the story might be winding down? That’s what’s happening with Alphabet Inc. and Google right now, and boy, is it getting intense.
Here’s the update: Google’s spokesperson came forward and said, ‘Look, we respect the workers’ rights, but what’s happening between them and Accenture, that’s their business.’ They’re sticking to the line that this whole drama with job cuts is all about savings and efficiency. They even said they carefully choose their partners and make sure they’re on the up-and-up with the company’s code of conduct.
Now, let’s talk about those job cuts for a minute. The workers – who are based in places like Austin, Texas, and the San Francisco Bay Area – got this news during a livestreamed ‘town hall.’ No questions or comments allowed! How’s that for communication? They were told the team would be cut down through November, with the first round hitting on August 7.
Tahlia Kirk, one of the team trainers, had some strong words. She said even though they’re cutting the team down to just 40 people from about 130, they’re still going to win the union election. They’ve even been told to train their replacements from the Philippines and India. Talk about awkward!
But this isn’t just a one-off situation. Alphabet has been down this road before. Just this past April, a group of contract staff at YouTube Music in Texas voted to unionize. And guess what? Alphabet was ruled as a joint employer of those workers, which was a big first. But Alphabet’s saying, ‘Nope, we won’t negotiate,’ so that’s probably going to end up in federal appeals court.
Some workers are arguing that Google has way more control over their jobs than they’d like to admit. Laura Greene, a team leader, said she’s working with full-time Google employees all the time. She’s even got a Google email and uses their tech support!
So, what’s going to happen next? The National Labor Relations Board is going to investigate and figure out if Alphabet is really a joint employer. If they find something fishy, they’ll take it to court, and it could go all the way to federal appeals.
But the real kicker here? Kirk, that team trainer, said this whole thing would cause ‘irrevocable damage’ to the quality of their work. She’s not pulling any punches either, saying that if this is all a big plan to stop them from unionizing, then these tech giants are breaking the law.
‘I think a lot of people are going to say about the layoffs, ‘Well, what do you expect from a big tech company?’’ she added. ‘But people constantly forget that unionizing is a federally protected right.’
So, stay tuned folks, this story isn’t over. It’s a messy, complicated situation, and it’s exposing some serious issues in the tech world. It’s like something out of a Hollywood script, but this is real life, and the stakes are high.