Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Google contractors who recently unionized say their jobs are being slowly shipped to Poland. On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint laying out the allegations against HCL America, an engineering and IT contractor that works with Google in Pittsburgh.
Obtained by Motherboard, the complaint argues the jobs are being outsourced in retaliation for legitimate union activity. In particular, the NLRB says the conduct took place “because employees formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities.”
None of the affected workers are legal employees of Google, but they specialize in engineering and IT tasks for HCL. The contractors voted to unionize in 2019, organizing under the United Steelworkers union. According to the complaint, the company has failed to bargain with the newly formed unit and has transferred work previously undertaken by the team to offshore workers in Kraków, Poland.
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Contract workers have been a significant aspect of employee activism at Google, including a public memo sent in March by full-time employees in March demanding better treatment for the contract workforce.
Temporary, vendor, and contract employees outnumber full-time Google employees, and typically face lower wages and less job security. In May, Google abruptly rescinded more than 2000 incoming contracts, citing cost-cutting measures spurred by the global pandemic. Because the workers were not yet under contract, the measures were not legally considered to be layoffs and the workers were ineligible for unemployment insurance as a result.