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Google’s secret fight to discourage unionization

In a recent ruling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed previously undisclosed information about a controversial campaign by tech behemoth Google. “Project Vivian” was devised to “convince [employees] that unions suck,” as stated by the director of employment law for Google.

This campaign ran from 2018 and 2020, also with the goal of “engag[ing] employees more positively.” It arose from four Google employees’ attempts to unionize their fellow tech workers. One tactic allegedly was to recruit a “respected voice to publish an OpEd outlining what a unionized tech workplace would look like, and counseling employees of FB (Facebook), MSFT(Microsoft), Amazon, and google (sic) not to do it.”

4 workers were terminated

In 2019, Google illegally fired four of their workers after they attempted to unionize their workplace, their complaint to the NLRB alleges. Google refutes their allegations and instead claims the “Thanksgiving Four” lost their jobs because of security violations stemming from their sharing of confidential company information. The four terminated workers refute that version of events.

Another media source with access to court records indicated the head of HR thought it was prudent if “there would be no [Google] fingerprints” and not specific to the company but the tech industry in general. In late December 2021, the judge presiding over the NLRB proceedings instructed Google execs to submit 180 exhibits related to Project Vivian. Thus far, they have not complied.

Workers have the right to unionize

Despite what your employer may try to convince you to believe, it is against the law for companies to terminate workers for forming or joining a union. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t try. Union-busting is an old tactic that began with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century — and continues to this day.

If you face similar circumstances, learning about state and federal employment laws can inform your decision on how to proceed.

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