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Workers Leaving the Googleplex

Dienstag 10. Mai 2011, von Admin

ACHTUNG: HD-Video, nur mit schnellem Internetzgang nutzbar.

Workers Leaving the Googleplex" von Andrew Norman Wilson Andrew Norman Wilson auf Vimeo.

Sehr interessant ist die Diskussion auf Vimeo. Die Besucher begegnen dem Kapitalismus à la Google und versuchen, sich einen Begriff davon zu machen. Da solche wertvollen Diskussionen oft aus dem Netz verschwinden, hier eine Kopie der Besucherkommentare. Die Originale befuinden sich am 10.5.2011 auf dieser Vimeo-Seite.

Rob Stone 1 month ago

Doesn’t give the the warm and fuzzies with google.

Rod Davis 10 days ago

Wow Google why so stingy? Scanning books cannot not be that secret of a project...

Modred189 10 days ago

It is when there is pending litigation and a massive settlement with the writers union involved.

Modred189 10 days ago

Wait. SO this guy is surprised he lost his job?
Lets see...
- He works on one of the most secure business campuses in the world.
- For one of the most security-minded businesses in the world. (well, as a sub Ker)
- With video cameras, which inherently represent security risks, doing a job for which I guarantee he signed multiple forms prohibiting this kind of activity.
- He used company material for personal purposes during work hours.
- To interview employees about confidential work that has all kinds of issues around it, including on-going litigation. Employees whose work is sensitive enough that they don’t get anything that can allow for material to leave their building (mentioned backpacks, phones and flashdrives)
- And then apparently lied about NOT having footage while mocking the person confronting him about his actions.

How is this shocking or bad? There are employees with certain benefits that others do not.

Matt Hopkins plus 10 days ago

He never said he was surprised he lost his job.

Modred189 10 days ago

Well, unless he lost it on purpose (which is not suggested anywhere in the video), I don’t see anything to complain about. Maybe I’m missing the point, but it seems like his actions were guaranteeing he would be fired...
albert zablit 9 days ago
I never heard him complain.

Jon Rimmer 7 days ago

"I guarantee he signed multiple forms prohibiting this kind of activity."

How do you guarantee it, beyond guessing? If he did sign multiple forms prohibiting the activity, why wasn’t his employment terminated on the basis of breaching those agreements, rather than on the far more flimsy grounds that he had (with permission) used company equipment for non-company purposes?

"He used company material for personal purposes during work hours"

He used company equipment during his lunch-break, with the prior permission of a superior. And his boss stated that Google was pressuring them to fire him due to his activities investigating the 3.14159 building, not because of his use of company equipment, so this isn’t relevant anyway, because it wasn’t a factor in Google’s behaviour.

"To interview employees about confidential work that has all kinds of issues around it, including on-going litigation."

Nope, re-read the transcript. He used the camera to film footage of the workers leaving the building, not to interview them. He spoke to a few of them a week later date to ask them about the possibility of interviewing them at a later date, at which point security stepped in, but no filming was taking place at that point. There’s no indication that any interviews he was planning to carry out would be filmed at all, rather than conducted via email.

Futhermore, Google didn’t terminate him immediately. Instead they asked why exactly he was interested in interviewing these workers, then had him fired when they found out.

"And then apparently lied about NOT having footage while mocking the person confronting him about his actions."

Google didn’t know that he’d kept the footage when they fired him, so that’s not relevant to any discussion of their actions. I also don’t see what’s particularly mocking about his correspondence with their investigator. He’s a little needling perhaps, but again I see no evidence his tone was a reason for his termination rather than what he actually told them he was doing, unless you can see something I don’t?

"How is this shocking or bad? There are employees with certain benefits that others do not."

Well, you’re putting the words "shocking" and "bad" into his mouth there. While there’s certainly intimation that he thinks the yellow-badged worker arrangement is a little unfair, he doesn’t ever say it’s even wrong, just that’s he was interested in finding out more about what was going on.

Speaking for myself, what worries me is that is apparently a class of workers (yellows) who are denied privileges that are given to other workers of an equivalently non-skilled or impermanent nature (reds). As he tells it, the only differences between these two classes of workers are the exact nature of their work ( data-entry vs for example, janitors), and their overall racial mix. Neither of these reasons is a legitimate reason to withhold a privilege like free transportation from one group while granting it to the other, in my opinion. You, of course, may not agree.

What further worries me is that possibility that Google reacted the way they did, not because of their concerns over the security of the book digitization project, but because they did not want a light shined this particular aspect of their employment practices. I don’t think it’s possible to tell from the facts as known which of these two was the primary motivation here.

I absolutely believe that a company like Google should have the right to protect corporate secrets and prevent corporate espionage, but I don’t believe that they should be able to use this to block any investigation of their wider employment policies.

Whether this guy was out of line and deserved to be fired isn’t really important. What’s important is how a company like Google treats its employees, and regardless of the facts of this guy’s conduct, I think his story does raise some questions that I’d like hear Google to respond to.

Philip Han 10 days ago

I can kind of see where Google is coming from but in the end it’s completely ridiculous.

Joe Grrrcia 10 days ago

1. I can totally imagine this re-imaging
2. The security people are probably bored
3. If you were fired for monitoring yellow badge workers, maybe you have it all wrong, maybe they’re the ones with the power.
4. Sorry to hear that dude.

Janet Bloem 10 days ago

Bummer. Good vid though.

Aren Ghazikhanian 10 days ago

HUGE SURPRISE. The uneducated unskilled workers don’t have access to free food and transportation? God forbid. Get over yourself. Quit being a giant vagina.
dalas verdugo plus 5 days ago
We don’t talk this way on Vimeo. Please refrain from doing so.

Ray James 10 days ago

So whats the point of this passive agressive nonsense? You’re contracted to work in a billion dollar company that deals entirely in the domain of information and then film and attempt to question people leaving a secure area. Your excuse appears to be some flimsy argument based on the large number of people of "color" as you say that work there? Sitting here watching that video it looked like as if the people coming and going were fairly diverse ethnically. For all Google knows your some corporate spy.

Obviously the termination meant more then you let on to your boss since you’ve went to the trouble to narrate this 11 minute video and provide a typed transcript on your website.

The tone and context implies this is some big conspiracy. Where is it? Try this at Microsoft. See what happens. Better yet Apple.

lushr 9 days ago

Why there would have to be secrecy around the scanning of books for google is ridiculous, unless of course its because these yellow badged workers are being instructed to make illegal duplicates of copyrighted material. which they are. The illegal activity being conducted in this building should be investigated by US authorities immediately.

Alexander 8 days ago

Tapes, at google? seriously....

Joseph Thornton 7 days ago

This guy obviously knows nothing about co-employment issues. You can’t give contract employees the same rights as regular employees. Microsoft did and it cost them over 97 million dollars.

Andrew Norman Wilson 7 days ago

Joseph, please watch the video again, and listen to everything that is said. I was a contract employee and was given many of the same rights as the regular employees. The ScanOps workers were contract employees and were given hardly any of the same rights that I had.

Joseph Thornton 7 days ago

K, watched it again. Companies need to have classes like this or else they get sued. They would LOVE to give everyone the same rights but Lawyers have made it impossible. Blame fancy Lawyers and the Government for what you see here, not Google. :-(

Andrew Norman Wilson 7 days ago

Joseph, just so we don’t close up our thinking surrounding this issue on the basis of some vague generalization of how "lawyers and the government" are to blame here, I would love to see you come up with documentation of the reasoning behind why custodial and kitchen staff at Google have access to privileges that the ScanOps employees do not have access to. Or, rather than quickly dismissing this with a justification for the capitalist rationalization of exclusion and hierarchy- a sort of "that’s just the way it is" attitude - maybe this is a potential for thinking about how the lived experience of belonging to an excluded, marginalized class can feel. I see that you "love" Google, and while I certainly don’t hate them, I think we are both capable of recognizing their complicity by forming more complex arguments than a blame game that points at the government, and lawyers, and stuff.

Joseph Thornton 7 days ago


You act like you’re exposing some kind of secret movement...If you did a even a little research into co-employment you’d fully understand why companies need separate classes, even among contract groups! You aren’t exposing anything and Google did absolutely nothing wrong.

All I see in your video is standard practice that every large company emulates to this very day. Be glad they’re keeping those jobs in the US.

Andrew Norman Wilson 7 days ago

Hi Joseph,

You didn’t respond to my requests. This new comment offers nothing new. Id be interested to hear how you think I’m acting like I’m exposing some kind of secret movement. That’s not really the point of the video ... I’m aware that this type of hierarchization exists widely around the world. This isn’t so much a video about Google as it is a video about contemporary conditions of labor, which includes one of the most progressive multinational corporations.

And I actually am exposing something ... the yellow badge class was not public knowledge. Of course it’s standard practice ... perhaps this video seeks to question standard practice?

Also, do you really think it would make sense to offshore the scanning of thousands of pounds of books?

No need to tell me what to "be glad for."

A former contract worker for the company you love.

Saquedon 7 days ago

Sure sure Google needs to oppress certain types of employees to obey the law and morality.

But really what this shows is that under Google’s equality system some are more equal than others.

Milk Products plus 7 days ago

This is great video and a very interesting discussion about the evolution of contemporary work-spaces. Makes me think of the Prisioner "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

Benjamin Lotan 5 days ago

fantastic documentation of an experience. nice voice over. well put together. thumbs up!

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