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Software engineer and organizer Rebecca Rivers was one of four Google employees who were fired Monday, reportedly for labor organizing. (Photo: @GoogleWalkout/Twitter)

'This Is Meant to Scare Workers': Vows to Fight Back After Google Fires Four Employees Who Led Organizing

"They think this will crush our efforts, but it won't. For every one they retaliate against, there are hundreds of us who will fight."

Julia Conley, staff writer

Tech industry labor organizers and rights advocates pledged solidarity on Tuesday with four Google employees who were reportedly fired for organizing their colleagues against the company's complicity in human rights violations as well as its unjust workplace policies.

Engineers Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland were among the workers, dubbed the "Thanksgiving Four" by the Tech Workers Coalition, who were fired Monday after organizing petitions to end a Google contract with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and protesting hate speech on Google subsidiary YouTube.

Their termination was "meant to scare workers," the Tech Workers Coalition advised other employees. "Don't let it."

Rivers and Berland were placed on administrative leave earlier this month for allegedly breaching new policies recently put in place after Google hired IRI Consultants, a consulting firm that has helped many companies fight unionization efforts.

The two engineers were accused of accessing documents they weren't authorized to see, a charge they denied at a rally last Friday at Google headquarters in San Francisco. More than 100 colleagues joined the demonstration to show support for Rivers and Berland.

By accusing the employees of unauthorized access to documents, the organization Google Walkout for Real Change wrote in a post at Medium, the company is conducting "classic union-busting dressed up in tech industry jargon."

Google's firing of the Thanksgiving Four represents an illegal breach of the company's own code of conduct, wrote the group, which was behind last year's walkout to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment.

"This is explicitly condoned in Google's Code of Conduct, which ends: 'And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right—speak up,'" the group wrote. "With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation against workers engaging in protected organizing."

The makers of the podcast Eat the Rich tweeted that Google appears to be "dropping one of the words of their 'Don't Be Evil' motto."

The Google workers pledged to continue organizing and to fight the company's retaliation efforts.

"They think this will crush our efforts, but it won't," they wrote at Medium. "For every one they retaliate against, there are hundreds of us who will fight, and together we will win. One of the most powerful companies in the world wouldn't be retaliating against us if collective action didn't work."

After his termination was announced Monday, Berland tweeted Google's Code of Conduct urging workers to speak out against policies and actions they object to.


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