The woman who took over Google and won

Shannon waiting

Shannon waiting

Everyone has a limit. And when it comes, it can be a small thing, and it’s usually not a problem.

The moment of Shannon Weight was when the water bottle issued by Google broke. The data center she worked in was hot, so she sought another data center. But she says Google’s subcontractor refused to give it to her.

That moment triggered a chain reaction that led to the announcement last week. Google has signed a statement stating that company workers have the right to discuss wages and terms with each other.

Even what you have to say may seem strange.

But in reality, it was the culmination of the battle between Shannon and the company.

Her story is one of the overkills of management and sheds light on the management practices that have become synonymous with Big Tech.

Shannon earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2018 and started working at a Google data center in South Carolina the following February, earning $ 15 an hour (£ 10.90).

“We’re fixing the server, replacing the hard drive, replacing the motherboard, lifting the heavy battery, etc. It’s like 30 pounds (13.6 kg) each,” she says. “It’s a really difficult job.”

Google’s offices are renowned for their creative, alternative, and fun things like table tennis, free meals, and music rooms. But what Shannon explains is not very idyllic.

“People don’t play games all day, as you can see in the movies … the data centers are completely different,” she says.

Shannon was a Google contractor. So she worked in a Google data center, but was actually hired by a subcontractor called Modis, which is part of a group of companies owned by another company, Adecco.

That complex arrangement is becoming more and more common on Google. About half of the people who work in the company He is reportedly employed as a contractor.

It also complicates understanding who actually carries the cans due to administrative mistakes. But we’ll talk about that later.

Shannon says the job became more difficult when the pandemic occurred. The minimum number of jobs per shift has been increased. But there was a sweetener.

Shannon waiting

Shannon waiting

“Around May 2020, Google announced that it would deal with the pandemic in honor, saying they would give a bonus to all employees, including contractors who work directly,” she says.

“The time has come when we were supposed to receive that bonus and it didn’t show up in any of our bank accounts. We were worried that we could really spend this extra money. started.”

It was around this time that she said employees started talking to each other about bonuses and the amount they were eligible to receive.

“We started asking each other about wages, but whenever it came to management, we were told not to talk about it.”

Message sent by the manager to Shannon Waite

Message sent by the manager to Shannon Waite

Shannon even says the manager sent a message that “discussing rewards with colleagues is never okay.” She shared it with the BBC.

Shannon eventually received the bonus, but says he was disillusioned. She wanted to get a full-time job at Google. However, she noticed the culture of “Persol Tempstaff”. The temporary staff she says will never be staff, no matter how hard you try.

Dissatisfied with management, Shannon has reached what she says is her limit.

“The data center is very hot. It’s about 85F (29.5C), so Google issued a water bottle, but the cap was broken.”

She says the same thing happened to her colleague, a full-time employee of Google. However, Shannon says his colleague was given a new bottle, but it wasn’t. She went home and entered a Facebook post.

Shannonwaite Facebook Post

Shannonwaite Facebook Post

In the end, she says she “had enough.”

“The next day I was working and most of the time I was called into a meeting room where the manager was attending, and they said my Facebook post violated a nondisclosure agreement and I There was a security risk and I had to hand over my badge and laptop immediately to take me offsite. “

The Alphabet Workers Union was founded in January 2021 for Google workers. It is not approved by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent government agency, and is sometimes referred to as a “minority union.” The majority of Google workers are not members, but Shannon is a member and the union has taken up her proceedings.

In February, they filed two proceedings on her behalf under unfair labor practices. What she was illegally stopped-because she talked about supporting the union. Another thing her manager asked her not to illegally discuss her wages.

Last month, Google, Modis and Alphabet Workers Union reached a settlement.

Shannon’s suspension was overturned.

Part of Google's agreed settlement

Part of Google’s agreed settlement

Google signature A document stating that employees “have the right to discuss wage rates, bonuses and working conditions.”

It was a victory for both Shannon and the newly formed union.

“People working in these trillion-dollar corporate warehouses and data centers are fed up with even their minimal rights being trampled, and they find that businesses aren’t listening to their workers. So we’re going to make them. “”

Last week, Amazon workers in Alabama voted on whether they should unite. Amazon is desperate to avoid the unity of workers.

Results are expected soon. This is the latest battle between Big Tech and, to put it bluntly, some workers who feel unloved.

“I think one of the biggest things people can learn is that not all Google employees create six numbers … and even at Google’s lowest level, they’re very big. Have power

And what about Google?

Well it didn’t admit cheating as part of the settlement, nor did it admit to being a “co-employer” of contract staff. The BBC posted Shannon’s story on Google, but said there was nothing more to add. Adecco has not responded to the BBC’s request for comment.

Shannon doesn’t want to go back to the Google data center and eventually wants to get a PhD in history. However, she has already contributed to history books, and employees rarely won against tech giants.

James Clayton is the BBC’s North American Technology Reporter based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @ jamesclayton5..

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