Google employees prompt tech giants to drop forced arbitration


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Google head office in Mountain View, California

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When Google employees left of their workplaces in November to object the business’s handling of unwanted sexual advances claims, among their needs was that the business end its policy of forced arbitration in cases of sexual attack and discrimination. Forced arbitration typically indicates employees can’t take their companies to court when they grumble internally.

Google partially capitulated, ending the practice when it handled sexual attack. But organizers stated the modification didn’t go far enough, and now a group of Google employees is promoting tech giants to drop the practice entirely.

The group, called Googlers For Ending Forced Arbitration, on Tuesday released a social networks project indicated to push their company and other Silicon Valley business. The demonstration will happen on the group’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, where individuals will publish realities about required arbitration, in addition to interviews with employees who have actually been impacted by the practice.

“In surveying the employees of 30+ tech companies and 10+ common Temp/Vendor/Contractor suppliers in the industry, not a single business could meet 3 basic criteria of a transparent & equitable workplace,” the group tweeted Tuesday early morning.

The series of tweets began at 6 a.m. PT, and will continue till 3 p.m. PT. Campaign organizers likewise stated Monday that Google is still utilizing the old arbitration policy in agreements and use letters.

Google didn’t react to an ask for remark.

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The group says 60 million Americans are affected by forced arbitration. In other tweets, the organizers showed employees and contractors how to search through their contracts to find their arbitration clauses. The group also laid out the arbitration policies of several big tech companies. For example, organizers said Facebook forces arbitration in cases of discrimination and wrongful termination, but not sexual harassment. 

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign is the first major protest of the year from Google workers, after standing up against their employer on several occasions last year. In one case, they protested Project Maven, an initiative to use artificial intelligence to improve the analysis of drone footage. A handful of Google employees resigned, and in April more than 4,000 workers reportedly signed a petition addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding he cancel the project. In June, Google said it wouldn’t renew the Maven contract or pursue similar contracts, though it’d still work with the military.

Workers also united against Dragonfly, a project to build a censored search engine for China. Employees wanted Google to create an ethical review process that included input from rank-and-file workers, not just from high-level executives. Hundreds of Google employees, mostly software engineers, also joined with Amnesty International in a letter demanding Pichai cancel the project. Last month, Google “effectively ended” Dragonfly, according to The Intercept, after it shut down access to data that was key to the project.

But the big moment for protesters at Google last year was the walkout, which drew 20,000 workers from Google offices around the world. That protest set the stage for Tuesday’s campaign.

“To the workers who quietly sent us their own employer agreements and shared their stories with us … your courage is the kind we hope to see from our leaders and lawmakers in 2019,” organizers wrote. 

First published Jan. 15, 6:10 a.m. PT.
Updated, 11:37 a.m. PT: Adds more details from the campaign. 

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