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Google cut contractors off from online 'Share My Salary' spreadsheet, union claims

Alphabet Workers Union says it's an illegal block of workers' right to discuss pay

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) claims the internet giant blocked access to a shared spreadsheet in which it reckons "hundreds" of subcontracted workers had shared their salary details and "up to 50,000" of those folks are now prevented from looking them up.

The group, also known as the Google Union, said it filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with America's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday, naming both parent company Alphabet and the companies that hired the affected contractors – affiliates Accenture Flex and Crowd Staffing.

The document, or so the AWU claims, is an internal "worker-created spreadsheet that detailed Alphabet- and contractor-wide wages" and was created in 2021 so that folks in jobs across subcontractors for the company could compare their pay. Such workers are known as Temporary, Vendor, and Contract (TVC) staff.

According to the union, Alphabet withdrew access to the spreadsheet "on July 11, 2022 and July 14, 2022." It noted that workers employed directly by Alphabet still have access to their own, employee-run "Share My Salary" spreadsheet.

Cutting employees off from access to pay information, or stopping them from discussing or disclosing their pay, would be a violation of Executive Order 11246, and is also protected under Section 7 and 8 of the US National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which would be the part [PDF] the Feds would be interested in if the complaint is upheld.

Laura Greene, a worker with one of the contractors, Accenture Flex, commented in a statement released by the union: "When we had access to a shared spreadsheet we could see how across companies, workers were being paid vastly different amounts for their work. This is powerful information that we have a right to know and hope Alphabet does the right thing and returns access to all workers immediately."

The complaint has not yet appeared on the NLRB website, but should surface here when it does.

According to the union, who confirmed this with The Reg, the spreadsheet was a Google Sheet that was hosted on the company's intranet. Far be it from us to suggest Excel Online on OneDrive might be a plan.

The NLRB said earlier this week it plans to crack down on the growing use of technology by bosses to monitor and measure staff as it is feared this software may be used to kill off efforts to organize and unionize.

A memo from NLRB's General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo noted actions taken by outfits like Amazon, whose monitoring systems scrutinize workers.

We have asked Google for comment. ®

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