Unions don’t work: Google had a secret project to make employees think this.

Unions don't work: Google had a secret project to make employees think this.


New documents have shown that Google ran a campaign to discourage employees from unionizing. The campaign was called Project Vivian, and it ran at Google from late 2018 to early 2020, according to court documents. It was meant to fight employee activism and union organizing at the company.


In a January 7 ruling, an NLRB judge said that Google must “immediately” give him 180 internal documents that he looked at about Google’s Project Vivian campaign, including the document that Pfyl, Google’s director of employment law, had described to the court. Google has so far refused to hand over these documents to an attorney representing former Google employees who are suing the company citing attorney-client privilege.


Employees at Google found out in 2019 that the company had hired a company called IRI Consultants to help them avoid unions. They help employers fight unions by getting information about workers’ personalities, finances, work ethic, motivations and ethnicity so they can defeat union drives. At the time, Google was facing a wave of employee protests and activism over issues like sexual harassment, contracts with the Department of Defense, and customers and border protection.


Employees at tech companies worried about unionizing


People who work for Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are worried about unionizing because they don’t want to risk losing their jobs. An attorney for Google wanted to find a “respected voice” who could write an OpEd about what a unionized tech workplace could look like and tell people who work for them not to join.


Activists at Google have used the idea of ending forced arbitration as a rallying point in the past. In February 2019, after a lot of protests from employees, the company agreed to stop having employees go to arbitration. A Google spokesperson said: ” The underlying case here has nothing to do with unionization, it’s about employees breaching clear security protocols to access confidential information and systems inappropriately,.”