Capitalism Comes To Silicon Valley

Workers Attempt To Unionise Stunted By Google Through Firing Labour Organisers

SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Monday fired four employees who had been active in labor organising at the company.

The memo, sent by Google’s security and investigations team, told employees that the company had dismissed four employees “for clear and repeated violations of our data security policies.” Jenn Kaiser, a Google spokeswoman, confirmed the firings but declined to elaborate.

The dismissals are expected to exacerbate rocky relations between Google’s management and a vocal contingent of workers who have protested the company’s handling of sexual harassment, its treatment of contract employees, and its work with the Defense Department, federal border agencies and the Chinese government.

Tensions have increased as Google has cracked down on what had long been a freewheeling work culture that encouraged employees to speak out. Google recently canceled a regular series of companywide meetings that allowed workers to pose questions to senior executives and began working with a consulting firm that has helped companies quell unionization efforts.

The changes are a remarkable turn for a company that has been considered a standard for the modern workplace. Google introduced many of the office perks that are now common across Silicon Valley, and its embrace of transparent relations between workers and management has influenced a generation of start-ups.

This month, Google placed two employees, Laurence Berland and Rebecca Rivers, on administrative leave, saying they had gotten into confidential documents that were not relevant to their work. They were among the four workers who were fired, according to two people familiar with the dismissals