Google has sent out a company-wide memo confirming it had fired four employees for "clear and repeated violations of data security policies", according to Bloomberg. Google has confirmed the legitimacy of the memo to both Bloomberg and The Verge, saying the workers "were involved in systematic searches for other employees' materials and work", with some of the information being leaked outside the company.
In response to Google's memo, the 2018 Google Walkout organizers group is accusing the company of breaking up their union, saying the company is illegally retaliating against the prospective union organizers like Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, changing their policies to let it fire whomever they want. Previously, employees were allowed access to data freely across the company. The Google Walkout group says all four of the employees who were fired participated in the 22 November rally.
Tempers Running High
There is a lot of tension at Google recently as tech workers found they have the power to protest things like sexual harassment reports, a controversial AI program for the Pentagon and a censored Chinese search engine. Almost 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout a year ago to protest sexual misconduct by Google executives, which lead to an investigation by the company's board of directors.
Google seems to be pushing employee organizers out of their workplace. Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, who helped organize the Google Walkout, have said the company management had retaliated against them, with the two employees leaving last summer. Google has also reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board, which required it to clarify its policies. The Board found that Google "does not prevent employees from discussing workplace issues."
In a report by the New York Times from last week, it is on record that Google hired a consulting firm known for its assistance in breaking employee dissent, and which advertises "union vulnerability assessments" as one of its services.