Labor Board Accuses Google Contractor of Violating Union Rights
A federal company issued a grievance this week in opposition to a contractor employed by Google and accused it of violating its workers’ labor rights, marking the most recent flash level in a long-running wrestle between staff and know-how firms.
Within the grievance, the Nationwide Labor Relations Board asserts that HCL America, a subsidiary of an Indian contracting large, illegally discouraged staff from belonging to a union, and of failing to discount with the union in good religion.
HCL and Google didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. The case doesn’t accuse Google of wrongdoing.
A gaggle of about 90 HCL workers in Pittsburgh who do work similar to knowledge evaluation beneath a contract the corporate has with Google voted to unionize final fall. They affiliated with the United Steelworkers union.
In response to the grievance, managers on the firm interrogated staff concerning the organizing actions of their colleagues, informed them that promotions and wages had been being delayed due to the union marketing campaign and threatened to implement work guidelines extra strictly if the union was created, in violation of federal labor legislation.
After the staff voted to unionize, the labor board asserts, the corporate started shifting a few of the work that they carried out to Poland. HCL additionally restricted their skill to take part in coaching classes and required workers to take periodic “fast verify” quizzes, in line with the grievance.
“Sending work in a foreign country throughout a pandemic was particularly form of an unconscionable motion,” stated Joshua Borden, an HCL employee energetic within the union. “They had been attempting to take jobs away from us in retaliation for organizing to have a good office.”
HCL additionally unilaterally altered insurance policies regarding breaks, trip, household go away, and 401(okay) contributions, in line with the grievance, though it’s imagined to discount over them with the union. And it “unreasonably delayed” in offering details about pay and job titles that the union requested to assist it discount, the grievance says.
Final yr’s profitable union marketing campaign at HCL was broadly seen as a big growth within the tech business, which has aggressively resisted labor organizing. Blue-collar staff within the business, similar to safety guards whose employers have contracts with giants like Google and Fb, have shaped unions. However the HCL union was believed to be the primary group of white-collar tech workers to prepare whereas doing work for a serious firm.
The HCL staff, echoing a chorus widespread amongst Google’s tens of 1000’s of temporaries and contractors, complained that whereas they usually sat alongside direct Google workers and labored on tasks collectively, they usually acquired decrease pay, fewer advantages and fewer job safety.
The organizing effort got here at a time when workers throughout the business, together with at Microsoft, Amazon and Google, had been protesting over a wide range of points, together with attempting to discourage their employers from working with sure federal companies, just like the Division of Homeland Safety.
A number of months after the HCL staff unionized, workers on the crowdfunding web site Kickstarter additionally shaped a union, showing to turn out to be the primary group of direct workers of a distinguished tech firm to take action.
Google specifically has been within the highlight over labor unrest. Its staff have protested the corporate’s efforts to assist the Protection Division establish targets in video footage and have walked out to protest the corporate’s dealing with of sexual misconduct.
Final yr it abruptly disbanded a group of contractors engaged on Google Assistant, its voice-activated device. After workers protested, Google agreed to require corporations it contracted with to pay full-time workers at the very least $15 per hour and supply medical insurance.
The corporate has additionally introduced in a consulting agency identified for serving to employers struggle union campaigns, and final fall it fired a number of workers who had been energetic in organizing colleagues. Google stated it fired the employees as a result of they violated firm insurance policies.
The labor board’s case in opposition to HCL is scheduled to go earlier than an administrative legislation choose subsequent February, except the corporate settles with the federal government beforehand.
If the choose had been to rule in opposition to HCL, she or he would seemingly order the corporate to undo all of the adjustments it made unilaterally and discount over them with the union, stated Wilma Liebman, a former chairwoman of the Nationwide Labor Relations Board. It might additionally require HCL to compensate staff for any losses they suffered because of these adjustments.
The labor board issued the grievance on Monday, however the steelworkers union introduced it on Thursday, after it had an opportunity to overview it, a union spokesman stated.
Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed reporting.
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