For immediate release
April 14, 2017
Meghan Cohorst, UNITE HERE
Elly Matsumura, Silicon Valley Rising
Mounting Pressure on Google to Protect Workers Who Join Massive May 1 Mobilization
Google campuses across the country were visited today and this week by delegations from national immigrant rights, tech equity and labor groups calling for the tech giant to stand with workers who join the resistance actions expected to turn out hundreds of thousands nationwide on May 1, 2017, also known as May Day.
Since mass action against the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban in January, the tech industry’s own white collar employees have joined with low-wage, subcontracted workers, turning up the pressure on industry leaders to protect both segments of the tech workforce by taking strong positions against anti-immigrant and anti-worker federal policies. Google has supported its direct employees’ right to protest, leaving the question of how it will handle May Day for the workers who clean, serve food on and protect its campuses.
“Since Trump was elected, it has felt like there is a non-stop attack on immigrants,” said Braulia Delgado, a janitor on the Google campus for 13 years, in an interview. “As an immigrant worker I am staying home from work on May 1st and encouraging other workers to stay home and march with us because we contribute a lot to this industry and this country and we belong here. Google and other tech companies have already taken a stand against the Trump administration’s policies, now it’s time for them to stand with us.”
Thousands of subcontracted cafeteria workers, janitors, security officers, shuttle drivers, groundskeepers, and other service workers — predominantly immigrants, people of color, and women — are employed in Google offices across the U.S. and have acutely felt the Trump administration’s repeated attacks on them and their friends and families. For these individuals, calls to take action on May Day resonate with growing urgency.
For its part, Google is one of the world’s largest and most-profitable tech companies, and it has already positioned itself at the forefront of resistance to key federal policies. The company joined an Amicus brief against the first travel ban and, in January, over 2,000 Google employees staged a walkout in protest of the ban. The company’s co-founder Sergey Brin — himself a refugee — participated in an anti-ban protest at SFO.
Delegations today delivered an open letter signed by over 40 organizations calling on Google to respect workers’ wishes to participate in May Day actions to Google locations including Boston, Atlanta, Ann Arbor and San Francisco. Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC, offices are receiving deliveries throughout the week.
The letter calls on the company to “honor the wishes of any workers who want to participate in [May Day] actions” by “not disciplin[ing] those workers who participate” and “[holding] their food service, janitorial, security, and other subcontractors to the same standard.” Google was first asked in March if it would respect its May Day participants by Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign of labor, faith leaders and community-based organizations that has brought national attention to low-wage, subcontracted workers of color in an industry widely criticized for its lack of racial diversity among high-paid employees. The company did not respond.
“Google and its employees have stood up to intolerance, as evidenced by their strong stance against the first travel ban,” said Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising. “Now is the time for Google to continue to be an industry leader by ensuring that all workers in its offices — both direct and subcontracted employees — have the opportunity to participate in these historic actions without fear of retaliation.”
Silicon Valley Rising is a coordinated campaign driven by a powerful coalition of labor, faith leaders, community based organizations and workers aiming to inspire the tech industry to build an inclusive middle class in Silicon Valley.