Google, whose employees have captured international attention in recent months through high-profile protests of workplace policies, has been quietly urging the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online.
During the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board broadened employees’ rights to use their workplace email system to organize around issues on the job. In a 2014 case, Purple Communications, the agency restricted companies from punishing employees for using their workplace email systems for activities like circulating petitions or fomenting walkouts, as well as trying to form a union. In filings in May 2017 and November 2018, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, Alphabet Inc.’s Google urged the National Labor Relations Board to undo that precedent.
When Google employees protested their company’s policies en masse in walkouts all over the world – organised through company e-mail – Google’s CEO and leadership publicly supported them. Behind their backs, though, they are trying very hard to make such protests much harder to organise.