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Alphabet Workers Union Wins Settlement for a Suspended Worker

(Image Courtesy Alphabet Workers Union)

Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) won a settlement filed against Google and its contractor, Modis E&T for Unfair Labor Practice. The worker, Shannon Wait, is an employee located at the Modis Engineering Google data center in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Modis Engineering is a subcontractor that provides data center services for Google. Wait was suspended in January for raising concerns about conditions in her workplace. Specific concerns included company policies forbidding discussion of salaries and a refusal by management to provide adequate water for workers. 

Such conditions faced by Temps, Vendors, and Contractors (TVCs) are typical throughout the tech industry. They are usually paid less, denied access to many of the perks offered to Google employees, and, according to a recent report from Protocol, even forced to take six-month hiatuses for unexplained reasons. Don Trementozzi, the president of CWA Local 1400, AWU’s parent affiliate, agreed that Wait’s experience “highlights an all too common trend where management makes false claims about workers’ legal rights as a silencing tactic.”

Wait was originally exposed by a supervisor over a Facebook post about her workplace concerns. Workers at Modis perform manual labor such as moving heavy computer equipment, performing hardware maintenance, swapping computer components. During the pandemic daily repairs doubled, increasing safety concerns.

Wait was reinstated within a week after the charges were filed. The National Labor Relations Board settlement also requires Google and Modis to post strongly worded notices around the data center that Wait’s suspension has been fully rescinded, removed from her personnel file, and will not be used against her in any way. 

She and other data center workers were also promised pandemic bonus pay and when Wait asked about that bonus, the same supervisor broke the National Labor Relations Act by directly messaging Wait not to discuss wages with her co-workers. All workers have the right to discuss wage rates, bonuses, and working conditions. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have a legally protected right to discuss their conditions of employment, including wages and salaries. 
Hear it from Wait herself: “I’m ecstatic at this settlement, it’s a huge win for me and all contract employees at Google and other Alphabet companies,” said Wait. “It’s far too easy for contractors like Modis to make us believe that we aren’t allowed to publicly discuss our working conditions or join unions, and Alphabet and Google turn a blind eye to this gaslighting. Now, because I had the support of my union to call them out on it, they’ll be forced to inform us all of our rights.”

Born and raised in the East Bay, and a fifth-generation San Franciscan, Kyle has studied and worked on three continents and lived in eight countries. He’s marched with Chilean student protesters, sailed the coast of Rio de Janeiro, nourished his brain and gut at the Forte Prenestino of Rome, and filmed a documentary in Spain. He lives and works in San Francisco.

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