Google union files first complaint over alleged labor abuses

Contract workers were supposedly banned from discussing pay.

The newly formed Alphabet Workers Union isn’t wasting time challenging the tech giant on alleged labor abuses. Bloomberg reports the union has filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint accusing Google partner Adecco of illegally silencing contract workers. Management at a Google data center in South Carolina reportedly banned staff from discussing pay, while technician Shannon Wait said she’d been suspended after posting on Facebook that she’d joined the union to address poor treatment of contract workers.

Wait said management not only suspended her a day after the post, but was investigating her as a “security risk.”

We’ve asked Adecco and Alphabet for comment.

This is the first formal complaint from the Alphabet Workers Union, and reflects the group’s approach to demanding change. Rather than pushing for collective bargaining, which wouldn’t cover workers contracted through Adecco, the union is using complaints and protests to pressure Google into addressing labor issues.

That pressure is only likely to intensify. Alphabet unions around the world recently formed an alliance to tackle issues that involve global coordination, such as allegedly poor treatment of content moderators. Workers have accused Google of union busting and otherwise trying to thwart collective action, but any attempts going forward might face stiffer opposition.