Home / Tech / Google doesn’t want employees to use work email to organize, per report

Google doesn’t want employees to use work email to organize, per report

Exterior of Google office building.
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/ Some Googlers held protest signs during the November 2018 walkout.

Cyrus Farivar


Newly revealed filings to the National Labor Relations Board show that attorneys for Google have been lobbying the agency to undo an earlier decision that required companies to let employees organize on the company’s own email systems.

According to a Thursday report by Bloomberg, Google has urged the NLRB in both May 2017 and as recently as November 2018 to overturn a 2014 decision known as Purple Communications.

In that case, the majority found that workers at Purple Communications, an American Sign Language interpreting company, could not be barred from using their work email for organizing purposes. The three Democratic-appointed members found that the workers’ own work email was a “natural gathering place,” particularly when those workers—like ASL interpreters—were distributed across a wide geographic area.

But two dissenting NLRB Republican-appointed members noted, among other reasons, that there are numerous email and other digital communications tools available to employees.

Google did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment but told Bloomberg that it is not “lobbying for changes to any rules.” The Internet giant added that this effort is simply a possible “legal defense” for the company.

The move was quickly denounced by the organizers of last year’s employee walkout, which took place at Google offices worldwide.

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