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."
Google fired the Thanksgiving Four for organizing at work.
We're calling on:
— Tech Workers Coalition (@techworkersco) November 25, 2019
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.
The #google action today in downtown SF was so powerful! Google has not only hired a union-busting firm...they have already been affirmatively union busting. Hearing googlers come together, stand together, and powerfully say NO to intimidation attempts was so powerful!!! pic.twitter.com/tsXOaCsGP1
— Veena Dubal (@veenadubal) November 22, 2019
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."
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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."
In a follow-up to our episode on Google, it really looks like they're dropping one of the words of their "Don't Be Evil" motto.
— Eat The Rich (@EatTheRichPod) November 26, 2019
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."
"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. Stay tuned for more."
— Tech Workers Coalition (@techworkersco) November 26, 2019
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.
"And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!"
— I'm Laurence and I'm glad you are here with me (@laurenceb) November 26, 2019