Sunday 8 December 2019
Home      All news      Contact us     
businessinsider - 15 days ago

Google workers protest company s decision to place workers on leave: Instead of listening to us, the company has chosen to silence us. (GOOG)

Google workers gathered outside the company s San Francisco office Friday to protest its recent decision to put two employees on administrative leave. Protesters accused the company of retaliating against workers who have spoken out against some of its controversial projects, and charged that Google s culture of openness is being stamped out. A Google representative denied that the company had done anything wrong by placing the workers on leave, adding that concerns had been raised about the employees work conduct. Visit Business Insider s homepage for more stories. SAN FRANCISCO Hundreds of Google workers gathered in the courtyard of the company s office here on Friday to protest its decision to place two employees on administrative leave. The two employees at the center of the dispute Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland spoke at the rally, accusing the internet giant of targeting them for being outspoken critics of some of the company s recent work. Google is systematically stifling its former culture of openness, they charged. Even though Rebecca and I are experiencing the full force of Google s retaliation, this is not really about me. It s not about Rebecca. It s about us, all of us, and the open culture we built and treasure together, Berland said. If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone, and that culture is lost forever. Supporters carried signs saying things such as Shame on Google! and chanted, bring them back! The rally highlighted the growing divide between Google s employees and management. Over the past 18 months, the company s workers have protested its decision to quietly develop artificial-intelligence technology for the US military and to build a censored search engine for China. Tens of thousands also walked out last fall in protest over the company s handling of sexual misconduct complaints. Demonstrators at the rally expressed concern over a number of Google s more recent policies, including its decision to hold fewer company-wide meetings and to roll out an internal tool that can detect when employees schedule meetings with large numbers of employees. Protesters linked these measures to the company s reported hiring of IRI Consultants, an anti-union consulting firm. That move was yet another sign that the company is trying to quash employee activism, they said. Berland and Rivers said Google placed them on leave for allegedly violating its policies Berland for allegedly tracking other employees calendar meetings and Rivers for allegedly accessing and sharing sensitive documents. They both denied knowingly breaking any rules. Literally zero of the documents I accessed were leaked to the press, Rivers said. Google didn t have any hidden motives for placing Rivers and Berland on leave, a company representative said. The search giant has clear guidelines about appropriate conduct at work, the representative said, adding that there were a number of concerns raised about Rivers and Berland s conduct. The company s hiring of IRI Consultants is unrelated to any recent policy changes, the representative said. We engage dozens of outside firms to provide us with their advice on a wide range of topics, the representative said. To suggest this particular firm had anything whatsoever to do with the recent calendar extension or any internal policies whatsoever is absolutely false. SEE ALSO: Google fires an employee for leaking documents to the media and puts 2 others on leave The employees Google put on leave charged it gave misleading reasons for doing so. Rebecca Rivers, based in Boulder, Colorado, travelled to the demonstration to protest Google s decision to put her on leave. Rivers said she didn t access any documents clearly labelled as need-to-know and certainly didn t share them. During Google s investigation into her supposed actions, most of the company s questions to her focused on her activism around the company s work with the US Customs and Border Patrol. Many of the questions during this interrogation focused on my involvement in the Customs and Border Protection petition, Rivers said, while the crowd hissed in protest. I helped my coworkers learn about and act on Google s collaboration with CBP.

Protesters said the company s actions are threatening its open culture Laurence Berland, placed on indefinite leave for allegedly tracking other employees calendars, said that the company s actions were threatening Google s open culture. So too was Google s decision to hire IRI Consultants, he said. Let s be clear, Berland said. You hire consultants like that because you decided to crack down on employees.

Workers carried signs expressing solidarity with the employees placed on leave Protesters carried signs of solidarity at the demonstration and called for the company to not be evil. They booed when Rivers and Berland related why Google said it had placed them on leave, and they chanted at the end of the demonstration for the company to bring them back. Google s treatment of Rivers and Berland is emblematic of how it has been dealing lately with internal critics of its direction and policies, said Zora Tung, a software engineer at the company. Over the past two years, many of my coworkers have asked the company to take meaningful action to curtail sexual harassment and systemic racism, improve the working conditions of temps, vendors and contractors, and divest from harmful tech, Tung said. Instead of listening to us, the company has chosen to silence us. Does Google value us or just our labor? Tung asked, echoing a sentiment seemingly widely felt among the protesters.




Latest News
Hashtags:   

Google

 | 

workers

 | 

protest

 | 

company

 | 

decision

 | 

place

 | 

workers

 | 

leave

 | 

Instead

 | 

listening

 | 

company

 | 

chosen

 | 

silence

 | 
Most Popular (6 hours)

Most Popular (24 hours)

Most Popular (a week)

Sources