Google contractor accused in labor complaint of illegally suspending a worker for discussing salaries

Tyler Sonnemaker
·3 min read
Google headquarters office employee
Carsten Koall/Getty Images
  • Google workers' union filed a labor complaint against one of the company's contractors on Thursday.

  • The union accused the contractor of illegally retaliating against a worker who raised pay issues.

  • Google's contract workers have consistently said they're treated worse than full-time employees.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Google subcontractor Modis Engineering, a subsidiary of the staffing firm Adecco, is facing a labor complaint alleging it illegally retaliated against an employee who raised concerns about pay and working conditions.

Alphabet Workers Union, which is part of the Communications Workers of America and advocates on behalf of Google workers, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday on behalf of Shannon Wait, a Modis employee in South Carolina.

AWU said in a press release that Modis, which maintains data centers on behalf of Google, illegally suspended Wait after she complained about the company's ban on discussing salaries and refusal to replace damaged water bottles. Wait had previously asked managers why some employees hadn't received bonuses as promised, according to the union.

"Alphabet and Google can do better to ensure that all workers, including their contractors, are treated fairly. Google became a trillion dollar company last year. They can afford to treat us right," Wait said in a statement.

"These are the conditions that we face as TVCs-we're paid less, we're laid off when needed, and we often don't have access to safe, transparent working conditions," Wait added, referring to the tends of thousands of temporary, part-time, and contract workers that Google relies upon.

TVC refers to people Google classifies as either temporary workers, vendors, or contractors.

Google, Adecco, and Modis did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Read more: Inside the spiraling culture of mistrust between Google and its employees, and how the first big tech union plans to keep Alphabet management in check

Workers at Google's South Carolina data center had seen the number of repairs they had to complete each day double during the pandemic, which Wait said raised safety concerns, according to the union's press release.

But after she raised those concerns and expressed support for the union in a Facebook post, Wait was questioned by her supervisors and eventually suspended, according to the press release.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employers cannot prohibit employees - whether or not they're part of a union - from discussing pay or working conditions or engaging in organizing activities.

"I want other TVCs to see this and know they have recourse if they see something illegal or unethical in their workplace," AWU executive chair Parul Koul said in the press release. "Alphabet's segregated, two-tiered employment system will not stand in the way of worker solidarity. We will continue to support Shannon and all Alphabet workers against unjust working conditions and fear mongering from management."

Read more: Some of Google's contract workers say they're getting left out of the company's pandemic benefits for childcare and quarantine pay

In December, the NLRB charged Google with illegally spying on employee activists, firing them, and blocking workers from organizing. Google had earlier hired IRI Consultants, a firm known for its union-busting activities, The New York Times reported.

Google has also come under fire over how it treats its contract workforce. While they're technically employed by firms like Adecco and Modis, employees of those firms have previously told Insider that Google exerts a significant amount of influence over their pay and working conditions.

Read the original article on Business Insider