Labor Board Accuses Google Contractor of Violating Union Rights

A federal agency issued a complaint this week against a contractor hired by Google and accused it of violating its employees’ labor rights, marking the latest flash point in a long-running struggle between workers and technology companies.

In the complaint, the National Labor Relations Board asserts that HCL America, a subsidiary of an Indian contracting giant, illegally discouraged workers from belonging to a union, and of failing to bargain with the union in good faith.

HCL and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The case does not accuse Google of wrongdoing.

A group of about 90 HCL employees in Pittsburgh who do work such as data analysis under a contract the company has with Google voted to unionize last fall. They affiliated with the United Steelworkers union.

According to the complaint, managers at the company interrogated workers about the organizing activities of their colleagues, told them that promotions and wages were being delayed because of the union campaign and threatened to enforce work rules more strictly if the union was created, in violation of federal labor law.

After the employees voted to unionize, the labor board asserts, the company began shifting some of the work that they performed to Poland. HCL also limited their ability to participate in training sessions and required employees to take periodic “quick check” quizzes, according to the complaint.

“Sending work out of the country during a pandemic was especially kind of an unconscionable action,” said Joshua Borden, an HCL worker active in the union. “They were trying to take jobs away from us in retaliation for organizing to have a fair workplace.”

HCL also unilaterally altered policies relating to breaks, vacation, family leave, and 401(k) contributions, according to the complaint, even though it is supposed to bargain over them with the union.

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Kentucky Board Of Elections Head Says He’s ‘Incredibly Confident’ About Nov. 3

Earlier this year, the head of the Kentucky State Board of Elections told the state legislature that its election system is routinely scanned from IP ranges located in Venezuela, North Korea and Russia.

The Washington Post reported this week that the CIA believes Vladimir Putin is likely directing a misinformation campaign from Russia to damage Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Local election officials still need help combating foreign interference.

“We know that individuals scanning our systems from those areas, you know, they’re not up to good intentions,” says Jared Dearing, executive director Kentucky’s Board of Elections. “Let’s just say that.”

The scans are a non-invasive tool used to find open ports that can be accessed remotely, he says, but no one has successfully entered the system.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped election security work, which Dearing says is at the forefront of the board’s focus. He lobbies for funding from the state legislature to support these efforts.

The Board of Elections receives both state and federal funding, but these resources cover everything from paying staff to buying ballot envelopes in addition to security.

During the pandemic, Kentucky received $6 million from Congress through the Cares Act for election improvements. Dearing says people should view election funding as a stable “tripod” of money.

“It’s really important to understand that these tranches of funding that they kind of drop-in with a parachute from the federal government,” he says, “I think it would be more effective if they were spent out on a yearly budget cycle because states could more effectively plan for what that budget would look like year to year.”

States around the country are having a tough time finding enough poll workers because of the pandemic. In Kentucky, the average age of a poll worker is 65, he says.

Now, a big

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