FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2021 at 11 AM PST
Joe Rivano Barros, [email protected]
Google and its contractor Modis E&T, part of the Adecco Group, must post strongly worded notices informing their workers at the Moncks Corner data center in South Carolina that they have the right to join a union, that neither Google nor Modis will interfere in worker organizing, and that Elisabeth (Shannon) Wait’s suspension has been fully rescinded, removed from her personnel file, and will not be used against her in any way, following a settlement reached by Region 10 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The official notices state that the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to form a union and to discuss wages, hours, and working conditions and that Google and Modis will not interfere with those rights. The notices also say that the companies will not tell employees that they cannot discuss bonuses with other employees or that they are not allowed to be in a union because they work for a Google contractor.
The settlement was reached after Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400’s Alphabet Workers Union filed an unfair labor practice charge against Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Google, Modis, and Adecco with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Wait, a data center technician and union member. The union’s charge alleged that the companies prohibited employees, including Wait, from discussing pay with coworkers, suspended Wait for supporting the union, and told her that she was not allowed to join the union because of her status as an employee of a Google contractor. This is the first NLRB settlement involving the Alphabet Workers Union.
After CWA Local 1400/AWU filed the unfair labor practice charge, Wait was reinstated within a week. Now, less than two months after the union filed the charge, the NLRB settlement means Google and Modis must inform all workers at the Moncks Corner data center that they have the right to discuss working conditions and organize with their colleagues.
“I’m ecstatic at this settlement, it’s a huge win for me and all contract employees at Google and other Alphabet companies,” said Shannon Wait, a data center technician and Alphabet Workers Union member. “It’s far too easy for contractors like Modis to make us believe that we aren’t allowed to publicly discuss our working conditions or join unions, and Alphabet and Google turn a blind eye to this gaslighting. Now, because I had the support of my union to call them out on it, they’ll be forced to inform us all of our rights.”
“This is a huge win for Shannon, a huge win for TVCs, and a huge win for our union,” said Parul Koul, the executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union. “Within weeks of announcing our union, we were able to help a member who came to us after being suspended get her job back. Now, in our third month, we’ve forced Google and its subcontractor to remind all workers at this center that they cannot trample on their rights. We could do that because we organized together and knew the law.”
Alphabet has shifted its workforce in recent years to become majority temporary, vendor, or contractor (TVC) staff, leading to a two-tiered workforce in which more than half of Alphabet workers are paid less, access less generous benefits, and suffer from greater workplace disparities. These disparities are often invisible—Shannon Wait, for instance, was told she couldn’t have a replacement Google-branded water bottle even though she works replacing heavy computer parts in hot data center rooms. Full-time Google employees, on the other hand, could easily get a free water bottle, highlighting the arbitrary and degrading nature of these disparities.
The Alphabet Workers Union was created to be a welcoming place for all workers at Alphabet—full-time employees and TVCs alike. The union is fighting for Alphabet to become a truly equitable and transparent company by ending the disparity between full-time employees and TVCs. Alphabet is a trillion-dollar company, and the union members assert that it can afford to give all its workers, regardless of classification, the same rights and benefits.
“This is an impressive and quick victory for the Alphabet Workers Union and for all Alphabet contractors,” said Don Trementozzi, the president of CWA Local 1400. “A union’s job is to protect its members, stand up against unethical behavior by their bosses, and ensure workers going forward know their rights. That’s what the Alphabet workers did here, and I’m proud of Shannon and all our union’s members.”
About our union: Alphabet Workers Union unites full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors and contractors at Google and other Alphabet companies in the United States and Canada in collective action to ensure that our workplace is equitable and that Alphabet acts ethically. We are members of Communications Workers of America Local 1400. Learn more at alphabetworkersunion.org or follow us at @AlphabetWorkers.