This union includes every North American branch of the content creation project:
For those who may not have heard of us, go to support.google.com and scroll through the countless products we create content for. If you’ve ever searched for help with a Google product, you’ve read our writing and seen our graphics.
Over the 4-year life of the content creation contract, we’ve consistently requested that Google and Accenture consider our expertise and experience in goal setting and execution. Management has repeatedly demonstrated, through a routine disregard of our requests, that our input is not welcome. Our resources and compensation have not been scaled to fit the responsibilities our team continues to absorb from full-time Googlers' workloads.
Our team repeatedly adapts to new circumstances and pressures. Despite constant understaffing and Google’s ever-increasing demands, we’ve improved content quality, lowered turnover, and reduced leaks. The key to our success has always been our grassroots culture of collaboration and solidarity. However, all of our successes have only resulted in:
Management frequently tells us that Google’s needs are their top priority. Every year, we feel the results of this philosophy more intensely. Instead of recognizing us as highly specialized workers worthy of respect, we are treated as resources for Google to exhaust, despite our expertise and how much genuine care we put into this complex work.
In January, half our writing team was told to immediately abandon our current workflow. That half was drafted onto a “code red” Google project to help train Bard AI. This work required a style and pace of writing that was vastly different from our job description. Our team members also encountered explicit or offensive content without the specialized training and mental health resources that content moderators should receive. Meanwhile, the remainder of the team was expected to meet existing deadlines with minimal support.
Again, we were treated like expendable resources, not people. And once again, we banded together to help each other deal with swiftly changing priorities, circuitous corporate bureaucracy, and poor communication from management. In these ways, our team has always been a union. We’re making that union official so we can speak with one voice about the needs we’ve expressed over the years.
On June 8, 2023, we presented Google and Accenture management with a letter and signatures demonstrating a supermajority of support for a union election. On July 6, just days before our initial hearing in front of the National Labor Relations Board, we were informed that almost 100 of the 119 workers in our proposed bargaining unit would be laid off. Our vacant roles would be filled by workers in the Philippines and India for pennies on the dollar. Accenture management has pinned the blame on Google.
Federal labor law prohibits retaliation against unionizing workers, but Google and Accenture provided no evidence that these layoffs were planned prior to our union announcement. When questioned under oath in our NLRB hearing, a Google manager of scaled operations claimed that the layoff decisions long predated our union announcement but also testified that there was no written documentation about the layoffs from before June 2023.
We’ve filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the NLRB that’s currently pending, but nearly 40 of our workers were already laid off in August. More layoffs are scheduled in October and November.
Our motivation to form a union stems from our dedication to our work. We only request the tools to do our best work, including competitive pay, humane benefits, and recognition for the critical product we deliver.
We’re appalled by Google and Accenture’s decision to lay off the majority of our team, but we will continue to exercise our rights by pursuing a union contract for those of us who will remain. We also trust that our Unfair Labor Practice complaint will result in a just outcome for our laid-off coworkers.
Despite the obstacles, those of us who remain on the contract look forward to negotiating with Accenture/Google management. Through negotiation, we hope to achieve:
If you're moved by our struggle and are able to financially assist our team members who were laid off without severance, we have a GoFundMe to help those who have expressed a financial need.
We will continue to take collective action to protect our work and livelihoods, knowing that our struggles are also part of a larger fight across the tech industry. In our letter initially declaring our union, we acknowledged:
Today, we are the cheaper replacement labor, absorbing the roles and responsibilities of our Google FTE counterparts. But tomorrow, Google could replace us with poorer quality alternatives.
These fears were substantiated. As a pretense for laying off most of our team, Google exposed offshoring as their standard practice. While under oath to the NLRB, a scaled operations manager stated:
This is standard practice for us. So we incubate the work in the U.S. and then we move it offshore. […] And I do it across all of my operations, not just content creation.
If Google doesn’t face consequences for this blatant retaliation, these practices pose a risk for all tech workers. This behavior won’t change unless there’s pressure on Google from both within and outside the company.