Kathryn Spiers: 'I was fired last week by Google for organizing.'

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/17/kathryn-spiers-i-was-fired.html

Google denies claim of illegal and retaliatory firing


Need evidence of Google fuckery, read the article…


I am getting very tired of this labor busting shit Google. A lot of people are.

People have the right to know their rights and organize.

This is illegal, and should be fought in court.


Apparently in April 2018 they dropped the “don’t be evil” motto from their corporate code of conduct. Does it now read just “Be Evil” or is that change still in progress?


There are still a lot of great people at Google. I know this because I used to work there. But there is a lot of people who should not be managers, and who should not represent the company in any way.

After participating in two employee walk outs, and hearing discussion later in TGIF (company meetings). I saw no concrete plan of action let alone actual action. The attitude I saw would be best described as politely patronizing. Most of management reacted like it was just the usual employee whining on par with which brand of coffee to stock in each cafeteria.

The problems of the relationship that Google has with employees is not any one person. It is a behavior that is scattered throughout the management hierarchy, in short it’s part of the management culture. They barely recognize they have a problem, even though they admit it to employees once a month, they never take responsibility of the problems.

Sadly, no one in HR or legal seems to want to educate the company on how employment laws work in California and the US. And I’m convinced the repeated violation of the law is going to bite Google hard. That’s assuming if anyone manages to slip away from forced arbitration clauses and really bring a serious suit against Google/Alphabet. FTEs often don’t have legal standing with how TVCs are treated, and TVCs often signed pretty nasty contracts that limit their ability to bring suit. (even if National Labor Relations Act protects collective action, Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis seems to allow mandatory arbitration clauses)


Maybe they could pull some legal magic where violating their rights/contract voids the NDA?

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This is my final straw. Don’t be Evil is becoming just a vague memory. I just made duckduckgo my default search engine on google chrome. I will save google for when I really can’t find stuff. I already got ready of gmail. Google voice will be harder to replace. I will see if Firefox can replace chrome yet. Last time I tried to use it for a main browser on Mac, it was horrible on energy usage.

Yeah they keep pushing the agenda on the users

The cpu and power usage changes a lot between Firefox releases. My advice is to not keep so many tabs open, and run some good adblocker (ABP, uBlock, whatever you want), hosts file (with gasmask on macOS), and javascript blocker (NoScript,etc).


And she seemed so happy there!

(I signed in to Google to post this.)

Fired for creating an annoying pop-up? THAT’S a firing offence?

Would that it were, more generally, of course, but for a one-off?

And the Venn diagram of “know your rights” and “annoying” has a pretty small overlap, if you aren’t Google management anyway

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This post, however, is how Google is denying its employees the right to organize.

The users are sort of on the corporate side by still using the services and platforms.

We are being evil.


No, no. She said she was fired for organizing at work, not orgasming at work.

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No, she was fired for “…misusing a security and privacy tool to create a pop-up that was neither about security nor privacy”. “…She did that without authorization from her team or the Security and Privacy Policy Notifier team, and without a business justification. And she used an emergency rapid push to do it.”

She was fired for misusing tools and not notifying superiors.

That’s what Google wants you to believe.

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Let’s see:

  1. Trump hates unions.
  2. Trump claims that Google is politically biased.
  3. Trump threatens Google with regulations.

I wonder what Trump would say about Google coming down on organizing there?

Whilst not directly a security issue, a happy workforce is more likely to care about security…

Impossible to know, he’s not consistent on anything that might have any nuance to it.

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May I recommend:


Do not run ABP, because their business model is damaging the internet, and know there is a difference between uBlock (bad) and uBlock origin (good!).

So run uBlock origin as abblocker, and maybe privacy badger on top.

Here‘s what she writes on Medium:

Part of my job was to write browser notifications so that my coworkers can be automatically notified of employee guidelines and company policies while they surf the web.

Further down:

I created a little notification, only a few lines of code, that pops up in the corner of the browser whenever my coworkers visited the union busters’ website or the community guidelines policy. The notification said: “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”

and then:

We frequently add things to make our jobs easier or even to just share hobbies or interests. For example,

And then there‘s no example that matches what she did.

So Google argues the tool she used was for alerting people to Google‘s official guidelines and policies relating to websites the user is browsing. AFAIK she used it to point out what the law is, not Google‘s policy.

Of course Google is pissed, and uses that to retaliate. What did she expect?

For the record: I don‘t like the way Google does things, and I don’t think that can be changed from within, Google/Alphabet needs to be broken into smaller companies, and the industry needs heavy regulation. I avoid their services like the plague, and every time one of their recruiters contacted me, I told them in no ambiguous terms I would never work for them.