2018 Google walkouts

Summary

The Google Walkouts occurred on November 1, 2018 at approximately 11 am.[1] The walkout had a large number of participants.[1][2][3] The employees demanded five concrete changes from the company: an end to forced arbitration; a commitment to end pay inequality; a transparent sexual harassment report; an inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct; and elevate the Chief of Diversity to answer directly to the CEO and create an Employee Representative.[4] A majority of the known organizers have left the company since the walkout and many continue to voice their concerns.[2] Google agreed to end forced arbitration and create a private report of sexual assault, but has not provided any further details about the other demands.[1][3]

Background

This walkout was initially intended to be "day without women" and later evolved when a larger number of attendees accumulated.[2] There were seven main organizers that asked for an end to sexual harassment, discrimination, and systematic racism.[5] An organizer, Tanuja Gupta, worked in a group called "Googlers for Ending Force of Arbitration" which aided in the growth of momentum towards the sexual assault issue.[2]

The walkout

'Google Silicon Valley Employees Join a Worldwide Protest' - video news report from Voice of America.[6]

On November 1, 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees engaged in a worldwide[7][8] walkout to protest the way in which the company handled cases of sexual harassment, and other grievances.[9][10][11][12][13] The protest came one week after a New York Times report named Andy Rubin (and other executives accused of sexual misconduct) who was paid a $90 million severance package.[2][8] The core organizers were Claire Stapleton, Tanuja Gupta, Meredith Whittaker, Celie O'Neil-Hart, Stephanie Parker, Erica Anderson, and Amr Gaber.[14] The walkout was organized in less than three days[15] and lasted for a half hour.[16]

Striking workers used a flyer that read:

Hi. I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone. I’ll be back at my desk later. I walked out for real change.[17]

The main demand was the act of transparency from a company, the presence of an employee representative, and the public filings of each sexual assault case. There were many signs held up during the course of the protest. One said "What do I do at Google? I work hard every day so the company can afford $90,000,000 payouts to execs who sexually harass my co-workers", another said "Don't be evil".[1]

Ongoing activism at Google

  • 2018: In December 2018, contract workers for Google wrote an open letter with demands addressing disparities between employees and contractors.[18][19]
  • 2020: Timnit Gebru, an AI specialist, dismissal situation.[20][21][22]

Retaliation and union busting

The Tech Workers Coalition provided a retaliation hotline during the Google Walkouts for employees who faced retribution for their participation.[23]

Two of the Google Walkouts organizers, Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, claimed that Google retaliated against them following the Google Walkouts by attempting to force them out or demote them.[24] They organized a sit-in on May 1, 2019, International Worker's Day.[25] By July 2019, four of the seven organizers, including Stapleton and Whittaker, had left the company.[26]

In late 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opened an investigation into the firing of four Google employees over their efforts to unionize.[27][28] In late 2020, following the investigation, the NLRB filed a complaint stating that the fired workers were not responsible for any wrongdoing and accusing Google of "terminations and intimidation in order to quell workplace activism".[29][30] It also accused Google of unlawful surveillance for accessing the employees' calendars and other internal documents.[29] The administrative hearing for the case is scheduled for April 12, 2021.[30]

In late 2019, the New York Times reported that Google had hired IRI Consulting, a company that provides anti-unionization services.[31][32]

Impact and outcome

Some of the demands made were met or partly met. Many of Google's responses included the reiteration of commitment to past diversity objectives and the improvement of the process to report harassment. The two resolutions that came closest to the employees' demands were the publishing of sexual assault cases, although the company opted for a private, internal report rather than a public one, and increased transparency of sexual assault.[3] In February of 2019 Google announced the end of forced arbitration for employees for all claims.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Wakabayashi, Daisuke; Griffith, Erin; Tsang, Amie; Conger, Kate (November 1, 2018). "Google Walkout: Employees Stage Protest Over Handling of Sexual Harassment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f O'Brien, Sara Ashley (November 1, 2019). "One year after the Google walkout, key organizers reflect on the risk to their careers". CNN. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "The Google walkout: What protesters demanded and what they got". Los Angeles Times. November 6, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Weaver, Matthew; York, Alex Hern Victoria Bekiempis in New; View, Lauren Hepler in Mountain; Francisco, Jose Fermoso in San (November 1, 2018). "Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Hicks, Mar (November 9, 2018). "The long history behind the Google Walkout". The Verge. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Quinn, Michelle. "Google Workers Walk Out". VOA. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "Google Workers Launch Worldwide Protests". VOA. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "PHOTOS: Google employees all over the world left their desk and walked out in protest over sexual misconduct". Business Insider. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  9. ^ D'Onfro, Jillian (November 3, 2018). "Google walkouts showed what the new tech resistance looks like, with cues from union organizing". CNBC. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "Google Walkout: Employees Stage Protest Over Handling of Sexual Harassment". Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Lorenz, Taylor (November 1, 2018). "The Google Walkout Doesn't Go Far Enough". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  12. ^ "Google Employees Walk Out To Protest Company's Treatment Of Women". NPR.org. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "Google walkout: Employees protest over sexual harassment scandals". Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  14. ^ Stapleton, Claire; Gupta, Tanuja; Whittaker, Meredith; O'Neil-Hart, Celie; Parker, Stephanie; Anderson, Erica; Gaber, Amr (November 1, 2018). "We're the Organizers of the Google Walkout. Here Are Our Demands". The Cut. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  15. ^ Ghaffary, Shirin (November 21, 2018). "After 20,000 workers walked out, Google said it got the message. The workers disagree". Vox. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  16. ^ Steinmetz, Katy (November 1, 2018). "Google Employees Hold Worldwide Walkout Over Sexual Harassment". Time. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  17. ^ Florentine, Sharon (May 3, 2019). "Google workers hold sit-in to protest retaliation". CIO. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  18. ^ Kircher, Madison Malone (December 5, 2018). "Google's Contract Workers Are Fed Up". Intelligencer. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  19. ^ "Google Contract Workers Write Open Letter: What They Want". news.yahoo.com. December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  20. ^ Wakabayashi, Daisuke (December 9, 2020). "Google Chief Apologizes for A.I. Researcher's Dismissal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  21. ^ O’Leary, Lizzie (December 15, 2020). ""They Weren't Even Treating Me Like a Person": A Black Tech Ethicist on Leaving Google". Slate Magazine. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  22. ^ Shead, Jennifer Elias,Sam (December 3, 2020). "Renowned AI researcher says Google abruptly fired her, spurring industrywide criticism of the company". CNBC. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  23. ^ D'Onfro, Jillian (November 3, 2018). "Google walkouts showed what the new tech resistance looks like, with lots of cues from union organizing". CNBC. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  24. ^ Tom Knowles (July 4, 2019). "Google boss used £71m payoff to fund sex ring, says ex-wife". The Times: 5.
  25. ^ Florentine, Sharon (May 3, 2019). "Google workers hold sit-in to protest retaliation". CIO. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  26. ^ Tiku, Nitasha (July 16, 2019). "Most of the Google Walkout Organizers Have Left the Company". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  27. ^ Durkee, Alison (December 10, 2019). "Google's Alleged Union Busting Is Now Under Federal Investigation". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  28. ^ Glaser, April (December 17, 2019). "Security engineer says Google fired her for trying to notify co-workers of right to organize". NBC News. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  29. ^ a b Paul, Kari (December 2, 2020). "Google broke US law by firing workers behind protests, complaint says". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Here's the NLRB Complaint Alleging Google Illegally Fired and Surveilled Workers". www.vice.com. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  31. ^ Brown, Jennings (November 21, 2019). "Google's Secret Relationship With Union-Busting Firm Outed by Calendar Entries: Report". Gizmodo. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  32. ^ Scheiber, Noam; Wakabayashi, Daisuke (November 20, 2019). "Google Hires Firm Known for Anti-Union Efforts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 6, 2020.