Google fires four employees; Union workers stage a protest in response

On November 22, about 200 workers staged a protest outside Google’s San Francisco office. The rally was carried out to protest against the firing of two employees – Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland. Google claims that these two workers were asked to leave on the grounds of data and security policy violations. Now, as per the latest reports, apart from these two employees, two other workers who were also a part of this protest have also been fired.

According to Google, Rivers and Berland have accessed internal data of some other employees, which should not have been done. Apparently, these two had searched for work details of other employees. Google has reportedly prepared a memo and sent it out across to the entire company stating that it had asked four employees to leave the organization for good.

The reason stated was the same – these employees had illegally accessed confidential data in spite of being given repeated warnings. Google even claims that these four have leaked out the company’s confidential information outside the firm to unknown resources. The memo provided by the company is legal, claims Google.

In response to Google’s firing of these employees, the group which was responsible for organizing the 2018 Google Walkout demonstration has accused the firm of “union-busting”. According to the group, the company is illegally firing out union employees like Rivers and Berland. The Google Walkout group further stated that this is kind of accusation by Google is absolutely baseless when previously, employees across the company were freely allowed to access all documents without any restrictions. The group feels that the firm is unnecessarily retaliating against such employees.

The Tech Coalition workers group also has come out in support of the four workers who were terminated from the company’s services. Apparently, these workers are being referred to as “The Thanksgiving Four” by the Tech Coalition team.

Apparently, Rivers was not in favor of Google working with the US Customs and Border Protection. Thus, she had organized a rally to retaliate against the same. When asked on Twitter whether she had been terminated, she affirmed the same. On the other hand, Berland has not said anything with regards to getting fired from Google.

It is not quite clear on who the remaining two employees are. There have been reports of a worker being fired on November 12. However, it is not clear whether this employee is a part of these four employees or whether five employees have been sacked in all. Google has refused to either accept or deny the allegations that have been cast on the firm by the Google Walkout group.

Of late, trouble has been brewing inside Google when the tech employees have realized that they can protest against issues like sexual harassment, a Chinese search engine being developed by Google that is censored, an AI drone that has been drawing controversies, and many more such issues. Last year in November, about 20,000 employees had staged a protest against sexual harassment of female employees by Google executives. The entire fiasco led to an investigation by Google’s board of directors.

Google does not seem to be very much in favor of employee organizers. It does not prefer keeping this kind of people within the company. Two of the organizers of the Google Walkout – Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker were asked to leave the firm by the company’s management team. Apparently, these two left the company in June and July, respectively. Some workers protested against the sacking of these employees, while there were others who asked the company to look into its own HR team.

In September, Google had made peace with the National Labor Relations Board by saying that it has not stopped any of its employees from discussing any of the workplace issues.

Reports have also come that Google has employed a consulting firm. This firm helps to identify any employee dissent and also addresses “union vulnerability assessments” amongst the services it offers.

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