Eric Risberg / AP
Four former Google engineers have accused the company of firing them “for engaging in protected labor organizing” and say they’re planning to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. Writing on the Medium page of Google Walkout for Real Change—which organized thousands last year to protest sexual misconduct at Google, among other concerns—the former employees describe their firings as part of the company’s ongoing union-busting effort:
It’s clear that their draconian, pernicious, and unlawful conduct isn’t about us. It’s about trying to stop all workplace organizing. Google wants to send a message to everyone: if you dare to engage in protected labor organizing, you will be punished.
Days before Google dumped the engineers—Laurence Berland, Paul Duke, Rebecca Rivers, and Sophie Waldman—it emerged that the company had hired the anti-union firm IRI Consulting. In a statement to NBC News, Google said it had fired the employees for “clear and repeated violations of our data security policies.” Bloomberg News reported last week that these violations included accessing the online calendars of other employees.
To this point, Google employees have organized but stopped short of forming unions. The New York Times reported recently that Googlers have created “solidarity unions”—worker-led groups that lack NLRB certification and don’t bargain on behalf of employees. The union effort might be informal right now, but the union-busting is anything but.