The Alphabet Workers Union-CWA has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against tech giant Google and global professional services firm Accenture.
The charge alleges retaliatory layoffs against Google Help workers who, earlier on June 8, 2023, expressed their intention to form a union.
According to the union’s records, when the intention to form a union was announced, over 70% of the 119 eligible Google Help workers had shown their support by signing union authorization cards. Following this, on July 6, Google and Accenture declared layoffs affecting over 80 of these workers, many of whom were subcontracted through Accenture.
These workers, comprising writers and graphic designers, are responsible for producing both internal and external Google content. This notably includes materials for Google Help support pages. The union has pointed to both Google and Accenture as joint employers, underscoring the role each plays in shaping work conditions. This joint employer status was the subject of a recent hearing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Anjail Muhammad, a general writer working for both Accenture and Google, voiced her concerns, stating, “When my coworkers and I announced our union with overwhelming support, Google and Accenture management refused to acknowledge us. Shortly after, they revealed they would be laying off dozens. These jobs aren’t vanishing; instead, we’re being asked to train replacements from overseas. While our work is vital to Google, they seem uninterested in preserving US-based positions. We will keep organizing and assert our right to a voice in the workplace.”
It’s expected that the initial layoffs will start on Monday, August 7th, with further layoffs occurring until year’s end. During this period, affected workers will train their offshore replacements.
In response, Google has stated that their decision to lay off workers was made before the unionization announcement. However, they reportedly couldn’t provide documented evidence supporting this during their joint employer hearing with the NLRB.
Tahlia Kirk, another writer associated with both firms and a member of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, commented, “Google’s claim of prior decision-making is questionable given they presented no proof at the hearing. The sequence of events raises eyebrows about the respect for workers’ rights.”
The union’s members are determined to continue their efforts and anticipate holding their union election soon. They aim to get both Google and Accenture at the bargaining table.
The Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, which is part of Communications Workers of America Local 9009, currently stands for over 1,400 workers from Alphabet and its associated companies in the US and Canada.