Four union organizers fired from Google

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There are military contracts to secure, authoritarian governments to become new clients, and a former DHS child-cager to employee. Of course they’re clamping down on non-evil employees.


Don’t be ev… I mean: Do the righ… OH, JUST SHUT UP FOR FUCKS SAKE!


Google: “fuck it all, be evil as shit.”


Sometimes the best way to galvanize a push to form a union is poor management.


Eventually, ever increasing financial success can mean that “Don’t be evil” morphs into waging war against anything/anybody that threatens profit maximization. B/c profits > morals.

Yet another corporate ejaculation into the global inequality whack bucket.

Googlers fired after tracking colleagues working on US border cop projects. Now, if they had monetized that stalking…


Watching any organization grow and learn that the sort of things that enhanced communication and efficiency in a company of hundreds doesn’t scale to 100,000 is always sad. You simply cannot have certain “nice things” when you grow big enough. (And especially when “nice things” are so often culture-specific and don’t work once you’ve outgrown the mono-culture phase).

Small organizations protect themselves and their employees against the outside world. Large organizations realize they’ve hired enough of the outside world that they’ve let the outside world in, and have to protect employees from each other.

Honestly, I’m amazed that Google still provided the facilities used to ‘stalk’ coworkers at this stage. These facilities must have been abused by other workers dozens of times before.

Google would operate just as well, or better, as an employee-owned cooperative.


I’m curious as to your specific reasons for this opinion.

My only experience with employee-led decisions in large corporations (i.e. large enough there’s no real fraternity) was that they were quite mercenary (this was to do with pensions). Fair enough, this isn’t abstract principle, this is what you will need to retire on for the rest of your life.

However, based on what I’ve read about employee-run companies, this is not exceptional. They tend reflect the needs and desires of employees (steady income, tendency towards mono-culturalism) that would not be ideal for a company like Google that currently engages in moon-shots.

I also suspect that leadership pushes the company towards greater tolerance towards a diverse workforce than the median worker. After all, this is what you need to feed your children, not express your social concerns.

Lastly, in a company that has found a profitable niche, I’m pretty certain there’d be a strong push by employees to make most new workers contractors wherever possible so as not to have to “share the wealth”. See how much support “open borders” currently has.

There’s huge differences between companies with 100 or even 1,000 employees, and one with 100,000. I think employee self-governance would be one of those areas where the differences would be most stark.

Of course, I could be wrong, and my opinion would be quite different in an organization where the majority of employees felt mistreated. However, I strongly suspect that isn’t the case with Google.

Also note, this is not a defense of Google’s actions.

Look at all the protests that have occurred inside Google when they start to stray from their stated goals and culture. It’s the executives that are making decisions to support Chinese surveillance, US military and intelligence projects, and covering up sexual harassment inside the company. It’s the employees who have protested and pushed back on those actions.

The greatest corporate misbehavior comes from individual or small-group decisions where there is deniability or diffusion of responsibility. When people have to discuss their decisions and motivations with others to reach consensus, the most sociopathic tendencies tend to get blunted by social pressure.


Oddly enough, I tend to see it the other way around. A small group of individuals usually have greater accountability (I know their names) over the populace that can diffuse the responsibility for less socially responsible decisions. Moreover, in my experience, people are vastly more likely to vote their pocket books over almost anything else if the relationship is made direct.

Progress in society depends on disconnecting socially responsible behaviour from the cost. For example, people will vote for a much more left-wing candidate, and then grudgingly pay for the policies that the candidate enacts when they’d wholesale reject the policy if they had a direct vote on it and now how much it will cost them directly.

In other words, I have much more faith in social pressure being placed on corporate leadership to look good, than I have in asking the majority of people voluntarily directly sacrificing money needed by themselves and their families for a fairly nebulous principle.

Of course, this may be the result of a lifetime of being significantly to the left of the populace. I live in my bubble of like-minded people, but I observe very closely how people act in crowds. Direct financial sacrifice for principle is not common, even among lefties like myself.

One counterpoint to my argument. With regards to illegal activity, incentives in executives in a privately owned company are to make more money for the company since the rewards accrue to management. For employee-operated institutions (like unions), the incentives toward criminality tend toward direct enrichment. In my mind, this means that the social cost of criminality does tend to be lower in employee-operated enterprises, as their ill-effects are limited to the employees.

Individuals make selfish decisions when they are anonymous and not subject to direct social pressure. Employee-owned companies make decisions collectively and in the open (at least with each other) so the social pressure not to be a total dick applies.

Despite metric tons of evidence to the contrary? What planet do you live on? Corporate boards make Hannibal Lecter look like a choirboy.


Ah, I may have been mistaken in my very limited research. All the larger employee-owned corporations that I could find (including several larger ones that I was unaware of, thank you for prompting me!) used stock arrangements where the employees (as stock holders) elected a board which in turn appointed the executives. Those elections are, of course, anonymous.

With respect to direct employee decision making, I’ve got a very limited sample size (2) and both were by anonymous ballot (and honesty, not a lot of discussion, just circulars that put out about the choices).

Honestly, I don’t see a huge difference between actions of most businesses to maximize their profits and actions of most tax payers to minimize their taxes (as any number of ballot measures in liberal California can attest to).

It’s easy to “other” business owners because unlike us, they are given the opportunity to put their self-interest into action. However, I don’t see huge differences from the populace as a whole in the expression of that self-interest when the opportunity presents itself (which is why I’m not a big fan of giving people lots of opportunities to express that self-interest. Ballot measures and direct democracy are not the left’s friends.)

I’ll take myself as an example of personal selfishness: I don’t support fully open borders which almost any economist would make a massive difference in the life of a billion or more humans on the planet in order to support essentially a caste system based on arbitrary birth and a few select few granted citizenship simply because my quality of life would take a hit. And all that while earning over twice the limit that places me in the global 1% (35K as of a few years ago).

I’d argue I’m right up there in “I’ve-got-mine / pull-up-the-draw-bridge-behind-me / master-of the world-by-birth” contingent that makes the Hannibal Lector look like an amateur. Sure, I support a robust immigration policy (Canada’s is about 1.5x the US’s), but let’s get real, that’s a tiny band-aid on a gaping chasm of massive need stymied by my personal greed (and not coincidentally, doesn’t require any significant sacrifice on my part.)

In other words, I’m happy to keep the social pressure on business leaders to maintain more socially progressive policies, but I think we risk big disappointment if we assume that the rank and file are far more willing to make direct personal sacrifices that true social progress will require.

However, I’m not willing to pretend that the majority of business leaders are all that different from me. If I’m not willing to halve my earnings to help billions, why would I expect business leaders to halve their earnings for massively smaller human welfare gains?

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