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A year ago, 80 Google contractors employed by HCL America in Pittsburgh voted to unionize with US Steelworkers—a historic victory for white collar tech workers in the U.S. Since then, the fight to win their first union contract has been an uphill battle.
On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board issued a formal complaint against HCL, alleging that the company has violated U.S. labor by failing to bargain with the U.S. Steelworkers union, implementing unilateral changes, and transferring bargaining unit work to non-union members working in a facility in Krakow, Poland.
“[HCL] engaged in [the conduct described] because employees formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities,” the NLRB complaint states.
In 2019, nearly two-thirds of the 80 contractors in Pittsburgh who work at Google’s Bakery Square office voted in favor of unionization. While they are not employed directly by Google, many of them work as analysts on Google Shopping.
The list of allegations against managers and supervisors is extensive, and predates the formation of the union. The complaint alleges that HCL management interrogated employees about the union activities of other employees, told employees that the “granting a promotion and wage increase” would be delayed because of the union, “restricted the distribution of union insignia” during non-work hours, and “threatened employees with stricter rules and policies” if workers voted in the union.
The 1935 National Labor Relations Act makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who engage in union organizing activity, and requires that employers bargain with the union over changes to work policy and union positions.
“We’ve had a firing freeze for our office, and as people have been leaving, they’ve been offering to replace them in Krakow,” said Josh