FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 05, 2021 at 5am ET
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Over 100 workers working for Modis, a Google subcontractor, organized last week to demand that the corporation pay workers the hazard pay they were promised. Following a series of collective actions, Modis ceded to the workers’ demands and Modis agreed to pay previously promised hazard pay.
Modis, a technical services division of the Adecco Group (considered “a favorite contractor” for Google), helps Google manage their data centers. Modis broke their promise to pay 250 workers at data centers in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Montgomery County, Tennessee, Berkeley County, South Carolina, and other Google data centers across the country, attendance incentive bonuses. These bonuses were meant to incentivize workers to return to work in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Modis workers were receiving a $200 weekly COVID-19 hazard pay incentive since September that was set to expire in December. Instead of adhering to the financial agreement, Modis stopped the incentive program mid-October.
“We organized as a collective and succeeded in getting the pay they promised to us. In the past many of us have taken up grievances with management on our own, and that’s rarely led to a positive outcome. However, by coming together as a collective we know that there’s strength in numbers and that organizing is what got the bread,” said Aidan Filipi, Data Technician 1 at Modis and member of the Alphabet Workers Union - CWA.
On hearing Modis wouldn’t pay hazard pay, some of these workers who are members of the Alphabet Workers Union - CWA reached out to other organizers in the union to organize around this issue. Workers across multiple data center sites participated in a mass ticketing to draw attention to this issue within Alphabet. Mass Ticketing is when workers file an individual “ticket” on-corp that goes to Modis management and payroll. When management from Modis hosted an impromptu meeting, workers asked difficult questions about the terminated incentive pay program, putting pressure on management in front of other workers.
“What happened last week at the Modis-run data center shows how Google’s two tiered employment system is designed to exploit workers. Google uses this two-tiered system to extract labor from contractors, like Modis workers, who provide essential services to Google, and other Alphabet subsidiaries. The Alphabet Workers Union is determined to put an end to this exploitative system,” said Parul Koul, Chair of the Executive Council, the Alphabet Workers Union - CWA. Modis workers are paid as low as $15 an hour for highly skilled and physically difficult work. Throughout the pandemic, Modis workers have worked more than 40 hours a week, while being severely underpaid.
Fault doesn’t just lie with Modis management and executives; Google’s two-tiered employment system is designed to exploit workers. Google uses this two-tiered system to extract labor from contractors, like Modis workers, who provide essential services to Google, and other Alphabet subsidiaries. The Alphabet Workers Union - CWA is determined to put an end to this exploitative system. The strong support for these collective actions from full-time Google workers is testimony to the possible benefits non-contract unions can have in the tech sector, where across the board executives are looking for ways to outsource as many jobs as possible.