back to article Google security engineer says she was fired for daring to remind Googlers they do indeed have labor rights

Google on Friday fired security engineer Kathryn Spiers after she created a Chrome popup notification reminding her colleagues that they have the "right to participate in protected concerted activities." Spiers claims she was fired for labor organizing, a protected workplace activity. She says she wrote the code – which …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Normal for google, unless you are promoting black, female LGBTI issues you are a threat to the culture, and must be exterminated.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh please, give it a rest. I have to put up with endless entitled whining from my colleagues. TV depictions of the tech industry don't begin to approach the unprofessional tone adopted by many Googlers when criticizing management, because it wouldn't be believable. And that's true for a show like Silicon Valley whose whole point is highlighting how surreal the tech industry can be. The notion that Google is intolerant of employees not toeing the party line is laughable. When Sundar Pichai easily handles aggressive questions from politicians, Googlers joke about how it was child's play compared to what he has to deal with at company meetings.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      you could have stated that differently and actually been accurate...

      There have been some indications that Google has a "culture" that does not tolerate CONSERVATIVES, and that promotes politically liberal kinds of things. And, in SOME cases (or at least, one DOCUMENTED case), an outspoken conservative opinion got someone fired over taking a position CONTRARY to that of the company [one particular guy a couple o' years ago comes to mind, with respect to 'affirmative action'].

      All snark aside, I'd laugh my ASS off if Google employees formed a union. Oh, the IRONY!!! As in, those who LIVE by the left, might just DIE by the left!

      1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Guess what, Bob? Protection against firing over such matters is one of the things unions work for. If Mr. Damore had worked for, e.g., The New York Times and been threatened with firing, the Newspaper Guild rep might have regarded him as an anti-social, unwoke reptile, but would have fought his case against management, all the way to the NLRB if necessary.

        I should say that you considerably overestimate the leftward lean of American unions.

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Unions don't lean left, they sprint left.

          That doesn't mean they robutt do the RIGHT THING, even if that does mean standing up for an unwoke reptile. Sometimes doing the right thing means doing something good for someone who is awful.

          Something about not agreeing with what a person has to say but fighting to the death to defend their right to say it.

          1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Unions don't lean left, they sprint left.

            Only a USian would say this.

            What most people in the US are calling 'left-wing' is centrist is most other parts of the civilised parts on this planet. Just because most of US politics are ultra far-right leaning, doesn't mean that anything to the left of that is far left.

            Paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid pregnancy leave and a livimg wage are the norm in most of Europe and are considered centrist.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      I think you will find it is white male cishet issues that are the exception to the threat to culture.

  2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Can someone please explain...

    Can someone please explain, for the benefit of someone based in the UK, why large US companies appear to be so utterly terrified of unions?

    Is there some law that kicks in once more than 5 staffers have joined a union that means the CEO has to sell his Hamptons mansion and only eat at McDonalds for the rest of his life?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Because Communism. Now STFU and GBTW.

      Seriously, though, there are no few Americans who would make largely that argument, that unionization is a slippery slope to Godless Communism, which makes shareholders and the baby Jesus cry, and that only through unrestricted laissez-faire capitalism can we find our apotheosis in the unrelenting sacrifice for the profit motive.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        There is only ever one fight...

        "The damned impertinence of these politicians, priests, literary men, and what not who lecture the working-class Socialist for his ‘materialism’! All that the working man demands is what these others would consider the indispensable minimum without which human life cannot be lived at all. Enough to eat, freedom from the haunting terror of unemployment, the knowledge that your children will get a fair chance, a bath once a day, clean linen reasonably often, a roof that doesn’t leak, and short enough working hours to leave you with a little energy when the day is done. Not one of those who preach against ‘materialism’ would consider life liveable without these things." - George Orwell, 1942

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: There is only ever one fight...

          Well and good. But it reads oddly to write of the Googlers as if they were coal miners in a company town in Mingo County a hundred years ago.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: There is only ever one fight...

            this branch of the thread is not about the googlers . keep up!

    2. ST Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      > [ ... ] for the benefit of someone based in the UK, why large US companies appear to be so utterly terrified of unions?

      Part of it goes back to the 1950's and the Red Scare. Back then, unions were identified with Communism - as a propaganda device. Somehow, wanting to be paid overtime for more than 8 hours of work per day instantly transforms someone into Lenin.

      That story continued until the Soviet Union collapsed. Now that the USSR was gone, they shifted propaganda tactics: it wasn't Communism vs. Freedom anymore, it was the job-creators (capital + management) vs. freeloaders (labor). Essentially pitting capital and management against their own labor force.

      We invented a new narrative: unions are holding you - union worker with overtime pay, health insurance and pension plan - back. If you just quit your union, that will unleash your full potential. The sky's the limit. You will be so much better off without overtime pay, without health insurance - because now you can't afford it - and without pension. The Free Market's Invisible Hand will take care of everything for you. By outsourcing your job to China.

      The other part is management's hysterical fear of employees (labor) unionizing and making demands that would have to be met, and would cut into management's well-deserved bonuses.

      1. Adelio

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        As someone in the uk I find it hard to comprehend how Americans cope with their poor working environment.

        In the UK everyone gets at least 4 weeks PAID leave, plus 8 days paid national holidays and some sick pay and maternity pay,

        Employees have reasonable employment rights.

        Healthcare is provided by the N.H.S (despite all its issues it has it is still basically free)

        Although I am NOT a member of a UNION and have never willing joined a UNION I understand the need for trade unions and would defend anyoned right to join a union,

        In the 70's we reached the Nadire of UNION excess and that finally led to their downfall and reduction in influence. BUT they still serve a need,

        1. Jaybus

          Re: Can someone please explain...

          I think there might be some misconception regarding the American work environment. For one, only the stories of doom and gloom ever likely are published. The squeaking wheel gets the grease. There are a lot of workers here and a plethora of work places, and so the entire gambit of work environments from awful to fantastic exist. But in general, the vast majority get paid leave, paid holidays, paid maternity (as well as paternity) leave, reduced cost health insurance, unemployment benefits should they be fired without cause, overtime pay, and more. Not sure what rights you think American workers lack, exactly.

          And, fyi, average wages are easily in the top 10 globally with both OECD and World Population Review having the US at 4th.

          As for unions, I'm not sure there is a consensus on the benefit. Some claim they aid the worker with higher pay and safer work conditions. Some claim they eliminate the worker by getting their jobs outsourced. I tend to think it is a little of both. It doesn't seem that non-union companies outsource any less, and neither does it seem union companies pay all that much better.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Unions here were originally associated with socialism but many were taken over by gangsters and even today are run like a bit of a protection racket. A handful of unions are still tolerated, I'd guess because its something to point fingers at when you're promoting the latest piece of union busting legislation.

      What you have in California as well as many other states is legislation that makes it a "right to work" state. This delightful bit of Doublespeak says that you don't have to give an employer any notice that you are quitting work and to even things out a bit any employer can fire you at any time for any reason or no reason at all. (The only bit that matters is whether its "for cause" because you won't get your meager unemployment pay.) Now, astute observers will notice that 'right to work' isn't even handed at all since an employer can easily blacklist an employee, someone who's often living hand to mouth anyway, while there's not a lot that an employee can do to a well prepared employer. (...and don't even think about bad mouthing them on Glassdoor....) Now if this staffer was organizing on behalf of a certified union and so on there might be some protection (but to get to that state requires completing a process akin to one of those medieval quests) but if she think that as an individual she has rights -- well "Welcome to the proletariat, oh person who thought they were part of some favored middle class".

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        Erm. What you've described is an 'at will' employment situation. 'Right to work' means you can't be forced to join a union in order to work for a specific company - amazingly not all US states are 'right to work'.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Can someone please explain...

          wait. what?

          so who would be doing the forcing?

          It cant be the union as they arnt the ones offering employment.

          Therefore it would have to the employer demanding you join a union.

          or would it be the local authority saying:

          "all bakers must be in the bakers union!"

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Can someone please explain...

            It gets messy and I'm not entirely sure of the precise details, but approximately an employer will agree with a union to only give work to members of that union. Want a job? Join the union.

            This is an interesting read into the impacts of unionisation and includes examples of unions demanding that non-union members are not employed:

            https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/working-with-unions-flipped/

            Suffice to say, I'll never make a film in California. Why would I want to deal with that nonsense?

            1. Rob Gr

              Re: Can someone please explain...

              "Suffice to say, I'll never make a film in California. Why would I want to deal with that nonsense?"

              I'm sure the media establishments in California are quaking at the idea of you denying your contribution.

          2. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

            Re: Can someone please explain...

            Yup, the employer forces the prospective employee to join the union (or simply will not hire anyone not in the Union) - it's called a closed shop.

            Benefits the union directly - more members, more money, complete power to negotiate for everyone in that work place.

            Presumably, the benefit to the employer is that union generally agrees to be less disruptive. No idea how and when these things came into being.

            Closed shops are illegal in the UK (under laws brought in by Thatcher), and I believe also illegal under EU (ECHR) ruling.

            'Right to work' would seem to be the US way of outlawing the closed shop

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Can someone please explain...

              so whats in it for the employer?

              not getting their windows smashed in by the union?

          3. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Can someone please explain...

            It's easier if you use the old-fashioned version of unions to understand this - Guilds.

          4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Can someone please explain...

            > who would be doing the forcing?

            > It cant be the union as they arnt the ones offering employment.

            Actually, it can be.

            Welcome to the REALITY of (abuse of) unions, as opposed to the theory.

            Same concept as the yawning gap between the faux-left (99%) and the actual left (1%) (and typically vilified by the 99% -- Orwell was savaged for his ideas by the socialists/faux-left, not the right).

            The unions, like any large system, get hijacked by parasites. And a substantial proportion of them get hijacked by triumphalist parasites. And they can and do put pressure on government/industry to make it illegal/impossible to work. Some of them get arrogant and aggressively shut down companies who seek to avoid union employees.

            For example:

            Australia's BLF morphed into the CFMEU (via the WA branch) and is routinely dragged into court for closing down building sites and even every building site of an entire company, if an employer seeks to engage non-CFMEU workers. And by "building sites", I mean fuckoff great big-ticket major-con$$truction type things, and also most large government projects -- the type of employer which In Theory is All Powerful & Oppressive. And they are happy to use/threaten serious violence -- I've seen myself 2 sites have a busload of rentathugs delivered to "help" the actual picketing workers, being instructed on the footpath re who "the enemy" is.

            Extreme example of the degree of control: they have shut down entire project portfolios of entire companies because management took down the black CFMEU Flag, which MUST be flown from the highest point on site (usually a crane). I am not joking.

            But the max.court penalty is low five figures per-breach-of-law so they just ignore it. Just that one union has been shown to increase Australia's large-project (buildings/infrastructure) cost by a minimum of 20% relative to other countries.

            quick google: A chain: B C D(a) D(b)

            You don't work on any large construction project in Australia without CFMEU permission. "No ticket, no start". It's their law.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Can someone please explain...

              good lord!

      2. Dal90

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        > "right to work" state. This delightful bit of Doublespeak says that you don't have to give an employer any notice

        Complete bollocks.

        You've confused at-will and right-to-work.

        At will employment predominates in the U.S. with narrow exceptions. You can fire anyone, anytime, without notice, for any reason other than membership in certain legally protected classes and situations. Those classes and situations can vary a bit from state to state.

        One state (Montana) nominally has a just-cause law that one can only be fired for just cause following a six month probationary period (during which employment is at-will). However, one of the "just causes" to fire someone is "legitimate business reasons." Loophole, meet truck. Truck, drive through loophole.

        Right-to-Work is used to describe legislation that eliminates Union & Agency shops.

        Closed shops require you be a member of the union to gain or continue employment; those were outlawed by Taft-Hartley act. Union shops require a person join the union after being hired, and Agency requires a person pay union fees for contract negotiations even if not a member. Taft-Hartley gave states the authority to outlaw Union & Agency shops.

        Which leaves Right-To-Work states with the Open shops were employees may be a member of a union, but can not fired for not being a member of the union (as in Closed & Union shops) and can not be fired for refusing to pay agency fees to the union (Agency shops).

    4. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Given that the best British unions could come up with to overthrow the forces of capitalism was Jeremy Corbyn, you'd think US companies wouldn't have a lot to worry about.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        Not to nitpick (well actually...) but since when was Corbyn a union leader? If you want to criticise unions here in the UK, you don't need a straw-man argument. Let's start with the brexiter* Len McCluskey instead, and the unreasonable power he seems to wield in the Labour Party without (seemingly) appropriate responsiblities to reflect the opinions or interests of his union members. No need to invoke Corbyn, whose faults lie elsewhere (principally in being a rubbish opposition leader when it comes to actually holding government to account).

        *brexit certainly isn't going to improve the lot of union members despite the myriad hollow promises that have been made in its name. Removal (or the possibility of removal) of the strong employment rights gained through EU membership is the start of the slippery slope.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Can someone please explain...

          Corbyn was the union leaders' choice of candidate to become Prime Minister.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Can someone please explain...

            Presumably because Labour is the only party that has any chance of winning a majority against the tories, and any union leader advocating a Conservative government would be out on his arse in minutes.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Can someone please explain...

              Today, in a news report, Tony Blair was described as the only Labour leader to win an election in 45 years. That was a surprise. I'd never looked at it that way before.

              1. MyffyW Silver badge

                Re: Can someone please explain...

                Blair is also:

                - The only Labour leader to win three consecutive majorities

                - The longest served Labour PM (10 years)

                - Spent 76% of his time as party leader in power as PM, compared to 61% for Wilson and 30% for Attlee. [I couldn't even bother with the maths for Ramsey MacDonald]

                - Has a fine set of teeth.

                I'll leave others to go on about the illegal wars and the overbearing state [identity cards, cough].

                1. MyffyW Silver badge

                  Re: Can someone please explain...

                  A friend has pointed out that both Gordon Brown and Jim Callaghan spent almost 100% of their time as leader in power as PM, so that particular stat isn't always meaningful ....

    5. TVU

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Indeed, and Google itself has now transformed from "Don't be evil" to "Let's be evil" and we see this now in the regular news reports about suppression of labour rights. Google is just not a benign corporate entity.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        It's now "do the right wing thing"....

    6. James 47

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Well, especially for software/IT unions can be a hindrance to career development. If you want to pick up a skill outside of your assigned area it may be difficult as you'll be potentially taking someone else's job.

    7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      The basic issue is manglement control. With a union, manglement does not have as much control over the indentured servants and they might have to treat servants something approximating a human being. Well run companies do not really fear unions as they are not likely to gain support of the staff as they are being treated like human beings. But poorly run companies fear unions because the servants are not happy. Also, in a strong economy poorly run companies will often have a very high churn rate because the servants can work for a more reasonable organization.

      Union organizing is allowed by feral law and interfering with it can get you in serious feral trouble not withstanding the state law. So if Chocolate Factory is cheating on the union organizing front they could face some serious consequences but more details are needed.

      A couple of quick points - 'right to work' means joining the union is obligatory as a condition of employment and 'at will' means one can quit or be let go with minimal warning.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Can someone please explain...

        The basic issue is manglement control. With a union, manglement does not have as much control over the indentured servants and they might have to treat servants something approximating a human being.

        I can't believe you're saying this about Google. Look at their list of employee benefits, it's insane. "Something approximating a human being"...really?

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Can someone please explain...

          The major issues that cause unionization are treatment of personal as if they below pond scum, horrendous working conditions (can be excessive hours), and a general lack of ethics in manglement. None these issues have anything to do with benefits per se. In the case of Silly Valley unimportant benefits are often an attempt to cover for the overall sleaziness of the organization.

    8. keithzg

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Same reason companies, and their management, keep getting greater and greater sums of wealth: enough is never enough.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can someone please explain...

      Because everyone in the US who has ever worked in an organization that has unions quickly learns how corrupt & awful they are. I had the luck early in my career to work in a unionized place where the workers voted to go non-union. It was wonderful once the union was kicked out.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    As imperfect as the union model is

    It sure beats the US style wage slave system.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: As imperfect as the union model is

      "It sure beats the US style .... slave system."

      Also known as interns

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: As imperfect as the union model is

        Can you be a wage slave if, as an intern, you don't get paid?

  4. sbt Silver badge
    WTF?

    We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

    Why not? That's part and parcel of wage based labour-for-hire, almost by definition. If companies are otherwise engaged in legal business activities, I'd say the ethical qualms only lead to the exit. If enough employees (or customers for that matter) object to the business you're doing, or who you're doing it with, then you'll lose them to competitors or other industries. If you want to pick and choose your clients or your tasks, start your own business.

    Sure, employees should be free to unionize and meet to discuss issues of concern, and bargain collectively. But if you're on the clock...

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

      This must be what this 'entitled' business that I keep hearing about is. People go through high school arguing the toss with the school system about grades and classes, browbeating faculty that hasn't got the time or effort to push back ("they're figure it out eventually"). Then they go to college, something that they're paying for (dammit!) so they expect the college to provide a caring, comfortable, environment and a decent result/qualification if they perform as expected. Then they get a job. This is where the rubber should meet the road but companies like Google have made their working environment as collegiate as possible so the penny doesn't drop. Like Truman Burbank in "The Truman Show" they sail away into the sunset until "clunk", the boat hits the wall around their bubble. Its a job. You sell your labor to an employer who resells it at a profit -- its what makes you a prole. The employer values your labor based on scarcity and resale value. There's no 'fairness', you just have to figure out how to live in this environment.

      (...and if you want to form a union talk to people who are union organizers first. Its a legal minefield and unaided you are certain to blow yourself up.)

      1. headrush

        Re: We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

        Right on brother, just do what da man says and he won't whip you no more! You should be grateful and STFU.

        1. sbt Silver badge
          FAIL

          Seriously?

          Come on, give it a rest with the emotive straw man stuff. You might convince me if you'd only make an argument.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

        "This must be what this 'entitled' business that I keep hearing about is."

        Yes, definitely entitlted. Stupid entitled companies, that think that they somehow own ideas, names, buildings, land. Since companies don't really exist as a physical entity, what right do they have to anything?

        Society, meaning the collection of actual real people in the country, allow companies to exist. It writes the rules of engagement, not companies. Hence we have employment rights, a minimum wage, etc.. Companies have no God-given right to exist and untrammelled power to do whatever they fancy. Humans can, and should, constrain their activities so that they benefit humans. Otherwise, what's the point of their existence?

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Holmes

          Companies have no God-given right to exist

          Absolutely. But you can't necessarily force them to exist and create employment either. There absolutely needs to be a regulatory framework for markets to operate in (including labour markets).

          However, if you make it too expensive/awkward/inefficient to employ people due to government imposed or union negotiated wages and conditions, businesses will find ways to not employ people, or not operate in your jurisdiction/market, or at all.

          Unless you're suggesting central planning/communism where everyone is employed by the state. I think it's been tried, but not successfully.

          1. myhandler

            Re: Companies have no God-given right to exist

            And here you are invoking a straw man on " businesses will find ways to not employ people, or not operate in your jurisdiction/market, or at all."

            1. sbt Silver badge
              Alert

              I think the straw man is unemployed

              I don't think so. I am suggesting that avoidance or relocation are possible direct consequences of the following statement in the same comment, viz. "Humans can, and should, constrain their activities so that they benefit humans."

              The bigger picture is that businesses that employ staff play a useful role in the economy if not everyone turns out to be artisanal cake baker working from their kitchen, or an Instagram influencer.

              Monopolies should be constrained, and lawbreaking punished (and whistleblowers protected), but you will not get the organisations with the scale to invest in supplying useful goods and services (at reasonable costs) or the returns that your pension funds need to sustain you in retirement without balancing the incentives needed to build such businesses with robust protection for suppliers, customers and employees. Or even the Inland Revenue (where Google really needs a swift kick).

              I've commented here previously that businesses operate in markets (for goods, services and labour) that are in the gift of the public and the government that represents it, creating trust, efficiency and access. This justifies taxation of corporate profits, the application of VAT, as well as regulation of conduct (such as non-discrimination), safety and honest representation. Access to the labour market is a fair exchange for providing workers with particular skills or knowledge oppotunities to be rewarded and sustained without them necessarily needing to have all the skills to run a business themselves.

              1. Robert Grant Silver badge

                Re: I think the straw man is unemployed

                Access to the labour market is a fair exchange for providing workers with particular skills or knowledge oppotunities to be rewarded and sustained without them necessarily needing to have all the skills to run a business themselves.

                Not just the skills, but the capital and the risk are taken care of by someone else. And sometimes owners are ruined due to the risk, and sometimes they're not, and the latter are rewarded with people commenting that they've not deserved what they've got.

            2. Kernel

              Re: Companies have no God-given right to exist

              'And here you are invoking a straw man on " businesses will find ways to not employ people, or not operate in your jurisdiction/market, or at all."'

              Given the amount of manufacturing jobs that have been off-shored to countries where labour is cheap and plentiful, I'd say that a lot of companies have completely failed to identify this as a 'straw man' and have, instead, taken it as a serious suggestion.

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Companies have no God-given right to exist

                No, no -- nonsense. These commentards would pick up a random retail item, turn it over, read "Made in China", and scream "STRAW MAN!!111"

        2. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

          Society, meaning the collection of actual real people in the country, allow companies to exist.

          I like that you think companies are anything other than people. What a bizarre false dichotomy.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: We cannot let upper management dictate how we use our labor.

            "I like that you think companies are anything other than people."

            I specifically wrote actual real people to avoid this corporations are legal persons nonsense that exists in some jurisdictions.

            It was such a stupid legal fudge I cannot believe it has survived. "Only people can own things. We could write laws saying that companies can also own things, or we could just call companies people. That couldn't possibly go wrong further down the line."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spiers said that part of her job responsibilities included writing browser notification code so that employees receive popup messages to alert them to company guidelines and corporate policies when browsing the internet.

    Er... You mean she modified the code of the browser to display her own ideas rather than corporate policies. TBH, it's no wonder to me she got fired. That thing was her job, not her personal blog. It's just plain silly to think you can't be fired "because there's no policy saying you can't do that".

    1. Citizen of Nowhere
      FAIL

      She modified the browser to display and link to Google's policy on employees related rights when they visited the website of a union-busting organization hired by Google to make a mockery of their own policies on unions and union activity by employees.

  6. Efer Brick

    Googlstapo

    These a merkin companies have such bad reputations.

  7. Reg Reader 1

    The whole Union vs non-Union thing is ridiculous. The scales are so tipped against workers and Unions, in NA, that it's a non-issue. Corporations outsource to companies, often created by "former" VPs, often out of country, to places where workers are an 1/8th or less of what we earn in NA. Then there's the medical coverage 'cause what'll you do, especially in the US, if you or a family member get sick and you don't have coverage, rhetorical question you go bankrupt and or die. Of course, just like with companies merging back into the mega Corps that were broken up in the early 1900s, we're seeing the rebuilding of the robber barons again. Free-market, Laissez-faire, capitalism.

    Not only do workers need Unions those Unions need to have global reach. There is absolutely no reason a worker in Bangladesh, for instance, should be paid less than a worker in Silicon Valley, for the same work.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "There is absolutely no reason a worker in Bangladesh, for instance, should be paid less than a worker in Silicon Valley, for the same work."

      Apart from the fact that the cost of living is higher in Silicon Valley than Bangladesh.

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Devil

        "Apart from the fact that the cost of living is higher in Silicon Valley than Bangladesh."

        Just because the SillyCon Valley worker is paid too much. Pay them as much as in Bangladesh and the cost of living in SillyCon Valley will drop too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Apart from the fact that the cost of living is higher in Silicon Valley than Bangladesh."

          No pay them less and they can't afford to live near where they work, the cost of living is so high in London for instance that its cheaper to commute in for outrageous train fares than it is to live in London.

          The cost of living in an area is a product of the environment, things such as environemental desirability, temperature, precipitation, access to schools, the beach, the surf, access to the Yorkshire Dales, distance from Manchester (more the better)

          Artificially pay silicon valley workers the same as bangladesh and they will sell their properties to out of area people who just want to live there, then commute in from their larger more affordable property while the companies are still there.

          Then the companies MAY move out to where the workforce lives (in the case of a skilled workforce), dragging with them some of the service companies , THEN the process continues again.

          So no i don't think the cost of living in Silicon Valley would drop.

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: "Apart from the fact that the cost of living is higher in Silicon Valley than Bangladesh."

          "Just because the SillyCon Valley worker is paid too much. Pay them as much as in Bangladesh and the cost of living in SillyCon Valley will drop too."

          No, it's because workers in the developed world are much more productive, so they are paid a lot more on a global scale. However, in order to not have all retail workers starve to death, they are paid more than people who are similarly productive in Bangladesh. Of course, to pay the local baker, who is nowhere near productive enough to justify this wage, enough to live, the cost of loaves of bread has to increase.

          Thus a rise in the cost of living is a way to redistribute the increased productivity gains that the more productive parts of society have produced, if the tax system is not managing it.

          You really don't want to pay all people the same throughout the world for the same job. There would be no good way to redistribute income then, and the resulting inequality would make today look like communism.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hold my tent

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      < There is absolutely no reason a worker in Bangladesh, for instance, should be paid less than a worker in Silicon Valley, for the same work.>

      Of course there is a good reason, we in the dominant western world require that poor people exist elsewhere in order that we can be supplied with cheap goods that we don't want to make ourselves. We were forced to abolish local slavery but fortunately, for us, everyone turns a blind eye to overseas slavery. Capitalism requires a certain level of ignorance amongst the proletariat especially amongst those at a distance...

      Our comfort comes at the price of someone else's discomfort, it's as simple as that.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        too true

      2. Wandering Reader
        Flame

        "Our comfort comes at the price of someone else's discomfort, it's as simple as that."

        Those workers would rather be in the factory than back on the farm, and you would deny them that choice?

        The developing world is climbing a ladder, each rung better than the last. It will be a while before they reach the conditions of the developed countries, but that's no reason to kick the ladder away.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      There is absolutely no reason a worker in Bangladesh, for instance, should be paid less than a worker in Silicon Valley, for the same work.

      Well, actually there is...

      Employing someone in e.g. Bangaldesh is cheaper for a couple of reasons:

      1) lower overheads such as employment safety, welfare, working hours, etc.

      2) lower cost of living for those employees because of lack of building safety standards, food safety standards, etc. and the fact that it is a por country without the resources to raise people out of poverty.

      Now, the astute amongst you will realise these are buisness reasons, not moral ones. If you follow them, then the natural pressure will be to either reduce standards in the countries that are losing jobs, or raise them in the ones gaining jobs. Over time, the second of these is more likley to happen, due to the natural flow of capital into poorer countries, but in the shorter term, in the name of "business", certain individuals would like to implement the first in the name of increased profit. They'll do so by preventing unionisation, and extolling the virtues of "competitiveness" amongst other things.

      Corporations, as non-human entities, have no morals, which is why legislation has to provide them for them. minimum standards, minimum pay, helath and safety, et al.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Except of course that globalisation has led to a rise in wages and an improvement in living conditions (and to some extent) working conditions in places where jobs have been outsourced. Which is why several billion people who were in absolute poverty 2 decades ago are now a lot better off - and countries like China have moved to "middle income" status.

        I'm not claiming perfection by any means - but the recent episode of globalisation has done more good for more people than anything else in human history. The Hans Rosling institute have some lovely stats and graphics on the changes in global levels of poverty - and they're well worth a look.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Absolutely, and I alluded to this; the unintended side-effect of businesses seeking cheaper labour in underdevloped countries is to move capital from those businesses into those countries. Where it is a lot of money, and the country is very poor, this does indeed have a positive overall effect in terms of bringing people out of aboslute poverty. This in turn gives those people mroe stability, and has knock-on effects of better education (they can afford it), living standards, health-care etc. in those countries, which in turn reduces regional political instabilities and things like that, whilst at the same time reducing out-of-control population growth (as people become more educated and well off, the birth rate drops, partly due to decreased pressure to reproduce from infant mortality).

          The flip side of this, is that already-developed countries come under pressure to reduce standards in order to compete, especially when the societal structures in those countries are based on profit-first capitalism, such as the US, and to a lesser (buit increasing) degree, the UK.

    4. Dabbb

      "There is absolutely no reason a worker in Bangladesh, for instance, should be paid less than a worker in Silicon Valley, for the same work."

      Why ? Serious question. I was trying to play devil's advocate and come up with some reasons but could not find any.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Supply and demand. There is no shortage of Bangladesh workers who would vie for employment at a very low price. In Silicon Valley, there is a dearth of employees who would take anything close to that price.

        And if google is willing to pay 8:1 for jobs in Silicon Valley, things like work quality, locality, and language must be worth quite a bit to them.

        Neither governments, nor companies, sit around and try to figure out how much "Should" people be paid. The market forces tell *you* what the relative worth is.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    "that employees do not have a statutory right to use employers’ email"

    How different US is. Here company unions have their company email address with which they notify me about unions matters... which are regarded as work-related.

  9. Cederic Silver badge

    "My employer is a liar"

    I'm still struggling with the concept of people that post on Twitter that their employer is lying still having a job with that employer.

    It may not be gross misconduct at every place I've ever worked but it's guaranteed an immediate disciplinary response.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: "My employer is a liar"

      What if the company is lying?

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: "My employer is a liar"

        Then raise that with your manager or via the internal whistleblower hotline.

        Do not go onto public media and start badmouthing your employer. Just don't. You're not a student any more, act like an adult and be professional.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unions at work

    Surely if your workers are part of a union formed of people in the same trade, it *is* work-related and Google have just shot themselves in the proverbial foot - "you can talk about anything to do with work except anything to do with Unions" certainly sounds like the sort of censorship those laws are supposed to prevent.

    Now I see why American lawyers need to make so much money; psychoanalysis when they finally realise how twisted their legal system has become!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Unions at work

      >"you can talk about anything to do with work except anything to do with Unions

      Then the workers need only to form themselves into a kaizan group. I'm sure there will be times where company wide cascade meetings will be necessary...

  11. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Devil

    "She pointed to Spiers' claim that when an employee changed the default desktop wallpaper during the walkout last year to render the Linux penguin with a protest sign, the change was welcomed."

    Apples and oranges. That's a terrible comparison.

  12. Ben Burch

    "Don't be evil" - such a nice idea

    Shame on you Alphabet guys. This *is* evil. You have enough money to treat people well, but you don't. Did you learn nothing from the NPM guys?

  13. Morrie Wyatt
    Trollface

    Popup notifications?

    Google do that to us all the time. They call it Advertising.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Lintfordpickle
    Holmes

    This should be relatively easy to clear up by checking the roles and responsibilities for her appointment in the company. Whilst I agree with the message she broadcast, if she did abuse her credentials to make it, then that sound to me like grounds for termination.

    "I created a little notification, only a few lines of code, that pops up in the corner of the browser whenever my coworkers visited the union busters"

    tbh, the way she qualified this statement with amount of effort involved puts me in a mind that she knew she shouldn't have been using company time for this endevour.

    1. LateAgain

      It's a pre prepared tool. So the effort required comes down to "not a lot".

      Perhaps Microsoft would let them all join "teams" for free??

      "Here, she misused a security and privacy tool to create a pop-up that was neither about security nor privacy," the letter says. "She did that without authorization from her team or the Security and Privacy Policy Notifier team, and without a business justification. And she used an emergency rapid push to do it."

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