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Don't be evil
April 30, 2011 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Andrew Norman Wilson was fired from his job at Google for investigating the working conditions of yellow badge employees misusing company equipment:
They scan books, page by page, for Google Book Search. The workers wearing yellow badges are not allowed any of the privileges that I was allowed – ride the Google bikes, take the Google luxury limo shuttles home, eat free gourmet Google meals, attend Authors@Google talks and receive free, signed copies of the author’s books, or set foot anywhere else on campus except for the building they work in. They also are not given backpacks, mobile devices, thumb drives, or any chance for social interaction with any other Google employees. Most Google employees don’t know about the yellow badge class.
Hacker News responds.
posted by AlsoMike (167 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
This happens quite often in large companies. Contractors and temporary employees aren't given the same perks as full-time employees. For example, Microsoft has blue badges (direct employees) and orange badges (contractors, temps, vendors, etc).
posted by fireoyster at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


HEY YOU! STOP RIDING THAT BIKE! YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO!
posted by dunkadunc at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


So.. now we actually DO need these steenkin' badges?
posted by hal9k at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


{cracks metafilter knuckles}

Hacker in the led by 10.
posted by clavdivs at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2011


I followed this discussion on Hacker News from the start and it quickly turned into a mess. There so much speculation and lousy argumentation going on that it boggles the mind. Not HN's finest hour, I'm afraid.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2011


The intial refutations from Hacker seem to follow logic.
a mess is one thing but is there some truth, is not the better question?
posted by clavdivs at 3:59 PM on April 30, 2011


Yeah where I work we have green and yellow badges. Cept the only perk I get is that I am allowed to escort visitors through security. Suck it contractors!
posted by Ad hominem at 4:00 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope he'll file an unfair labor practices complaint. This is pretty clearly an illegal termination for protected concerted activity under the Wagner Act, and even if he doesn't mind losing the job that much, companies need to be called on this shit.
posted by enn at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Andrew could make $ off his voice. It is pleasant. Bringing positive aspects to both sides of the contention makes the fur that much fluffy.
posted by clavdivs at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2011


So, there are some schweet perks to being a full-time employee of Google that part-timers and contractors are not eligible to receive. Sounds pretty standard to me.
posted by darkstar at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


hence the colored badges.
posted by clavdivs at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also the Apple story a few doors below. At some point, people in the US lost their healthy cynicism regarding corporations. So now there's this fresh shock of the new every time it's discovered that all these sweet!rad! companies act like every other corp ever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Though, the firing is another thing, I guess.
posted by darkstar at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2011


I'd be pretty upset if everyone referred to me by my full name and my full name was "Norman".
posted by doublehappy at 4:06 PM on April 30, 2011


The whole point of Google's employment policy is to squeeze as much work out of a highly educated and highly skilled labor pool as possible--hence all the on-campus amenities. Why should they offer those amenities to people who are essentially being paid to turn pages? I mean, obviously low-wage employment sucks, but turning pages at Google isn't any different from tossing packages in trucks at a FedEx Quicksort or any number of non-automated unskilled menial tasks. I don't really see what the issue is.

As for him getting fired, well, it's a typical corporate overreaction, but it's certainly true that as HN points out his emails couldn't have screamed "I AM GONNA MICHAEL MOORE YOU" any louder.
posted by nasreddin at 4:06 PM on April 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


middle name, middle name, middle name!
posted by doublehappy at 4:06 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


He wasn't a google employee. Google did not fire him.
posted by neustile at 4:06 PM on April 30, 2011


Yeah, Google is pretty much turning out to be the epitome of evil. WTF is Google so afraid of? When a corporation is so desperate to cover up their workers' conditions, something is going on.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:07 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Christ, nasreddin! I'd have expected you to give Google a bit more ire than that.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:08 PM on April 30, 2011


Yeah, Google is pretty much turning out to be the epitome of evil.

The epitome of evil? Does "Union Carbide" ring a bell?
posted by nasreddin at 4:09 PM on April 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


Union Carbide has only destroyed lives locally. Google can do it on a global scale.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:11 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So could GE, NASA, or the US Air Force, if you want to talk about theoretical risks.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:13 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This sounds pretty typical of most major companies - Having several classes of employee (usually "upper management", "typical office-worker", and a lower-class that ranges from janitors to manufacturing floor staff).

Although it surprises me to hear Google's reaction to this incident, the existence of such a class of workers means almost nothing. Makes you wonder what they really do... Or if Google (perhaps due to their "do no evil" mantra) just has a certain hypersensitivity to these sort of issues.


charlie don't surf : Yeah, Google is pretty much turning out to be the epitome of evil.

Puh-lease. Perhaps they've discovered that you can't make it in Corporate America without just a wee bit of evil, but I'll take a company that at least tries over the majority any day.

Union Carbide has only destroyed lives locally. Google can do it on a global scale.

Okay, call-out time - Substantiate that or GTFO. "Can" != "Bhopal".


clavdivs : hence the colored badges.

Can we please just stop that shit? Tired and counterproductive, at best.
posted by pla at 4:13 PM on April 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


But when did he get home? I don't think this story works without that small but critical detail.
posted by Naberius at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2011


I'm imagining Don Draper and Roger Sterling firing Andrew Norman Wilson, then drinking and laughing about it. I'm imagining Joan Holloway making sure Mr. Wilson packs up his things, then escorting him to the elevator. Peggy Olson shakes her head, mutters "What a fucking idiot," under her breath and gets back to writing insanely great copy that will earn her a Clio someday.

This makes me smile.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Christ, nasreddin! I'd have expected you to give Google a bit more ire than that.

Look, low-wage working conditions, here or elsewhere, are the starving African orphans of the post-'90s world. Dig under any rock and you'll find shitty working conditions. It's so ritualized, as you see in the Apple thread: someone cites a meaningless number like "a dollar a day," someone points fingers at the consumer, everyone gets their righteous indignation on, but no one does a damn thing. And no one can do a damn thing. Because you're not gonna get rid of shitty working conditions unless you get rid of capitalism, and you're not gonna get rid of capitalism. When there was a labor movement, something could be done through political institutions, but that sure ain't happening now. So we all sit around in these threads jerking each other off, but it's a totally useless exercise. (OK, you can vote with your dollar. But if you're in a position to "vote," you belong to a privileged minority that likely benefits more from the system than anybody else. I sure as hell am not gonna stop using Google Books because some dude got fired for filming something.)

Union Carbide has only destroyed lives locally. Google can do it on a global scale.

WTF?! Name one life Google has "destroyed."
posted by nasreddin at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


WTF?! Name one life Google has "destroyed."

Well, for starters, there were all the engineers at AltaVista, but I don't think that really counts...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:16 PM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


At some point, people in the US lost their healthy cynicism regarding corporations.

Please. Speak for yourself.
posted by Splunge at 4:17 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I'm eating a free lunch, my first thought is not, "Man, I hope everyone gets a free lunch, too." I think, "This is nice. For me."

Maybe I'm a monster.
posted by ColdChef at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


seriously, someone is upset by this? I dont get access to the executive jet, can I get a thread for the inhumanity of my position?
posted by H. Roark at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


seriously, someone is upset by this? I dont get access to the executive jet, can I get a thread for the inhumanity of my position?
posted by H. Roark at 7:18 PM on April 30 [+] [!]


That's some eponysterical shit right there.
posted by nasreddin at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [39 favorites]


- contractors and temporary employees aren't given the same perks
- perks to being a full-time employee of Google that part-timers and contractors are not eligible to receive


You two turn in your badges. The article clearly states that contractors DO get those perks, along with custodians and security guards, who are also contractors. But the yellow badges can't even go anywhere else on campus.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sure, old school companies do shitty things to different jobs classes of people, like the bank that has a floor of people doing data entry, and they have to get permission to go to the bathroom.

What's surprising to many is when a modern company that grew up on the internet, and grew out of a project at a university, which many see as an enlightened place, would do such a thing.
posted by zippy at 4:21 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe colored badges are productive hence affirming darkstars comment.

Rod Serling: " Carrol O' Conner would perfect as the security guard"
posted by clavdivs at 4:21 PM on April 30, 2011


As for him getting fired, well, it's a typical corporate overreaction, but it's certainly true that as HN points out his emails couldn't have screamed "I AM GONNA MICHAEL MOORE YOU" any louder.

Right Google could have handled this better but wow if that guy wanted to keep his job he should have just let it go. If the owner of your company gets you on a conference call to explain why you shouldn't be fired immediately, you don't go writing him completely unnecessary email that confirms exactly what they were talking about firing you for.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


They scan books, page by page, for Google Book Search.

I assume that at Googleplex also has contract staff who do window washing or plumbing or mail delivery or massage machine chair when the massage chairs need servicing. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these folks don't get free backpacks and ski trips either.
posted by rh at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I'm eating a free lunch, my first thought is not, "Man, I hope everyone gets a free lunch, too." I think, "This is nice. For me."

When I'm eating a free lunch, my first thought is usually "there's no such thing as a free lunch."
posted by birdherder at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [25 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these folks don't get free backpacks and ski trips either.

If you'd actually read the article, you could avoid dangerous limbs and learn that in fact those workers do get red contractor badges, just like the author, and not yellow can't-leave-the-building badges.
posted by enn at 4:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


What's surprising to many is when a modern company that grew up on the internet, and grew out of a project at a university, which many see as an enlightened place, would do such a thing.

One born every minute.
posted by nasreddin at 4:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you'd actually read the article, you could avoid dangerous limbs and learn that in fact those workers do get red contractor badges, just like the author, and not yellow can't-leave-the-building badges.

OK, this has now been pointed out twice in this thread, but neither of you has explained how that makes any difference to the argument.
posted by nasreddin at 4:24 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not seeing the issue. Am I missing something? An employee contracted by Google decided to film other Google contracted employees leaving a building on a secured campus. Then he tried to interview them for some kind of, what, expose? Then he got fired for it.

Is there an explanation I'm missing here? I watched the video. It told me that at Google there are positions with perks and positions without them. How is this different from anything anywhere?
posted by eyeballkid at 4:24 PM on April 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe I'm a monster.

using toetags for book marks again?
posted by clavdivs at 4:27 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


runs
posted by clavdivs at 4:28 PM on April 30, 2011


Apparently somebody has to push that broom into the clean, bright, information future and the coffee stations aren't open on the night shift anyway. You've got to be paying off a college loan to be elligible for all those perks.
posted by gallois at 4:28 PM on April 30, 2011


I'm not 100% sure what to think about this, to be honest. There's a bunch of things in my head, like yeah, I don't get to go in the private jet, and yeah, he breached the terms of his employment so he gets fired, and then there's yeah, it sucks that some people are treated like whatever in their crappy jobs, and there's the whole Google says it isn't evil but of course it is because it's whatever it is. I dunno, I think what I take away from this is that sweatshops are terrible when it's Americans in the sweatshops.
posted by doublehappy at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would gladly forgo the shuttle for a full-time postion today.
if there be a broom and a room to let 50 cents
I'm on the road.
posted by clavdivs at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ooh ooh! Me! I'm in debt!
posted by Splunge at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's surprising to many is when a modern company that grew up on the internet, and grew out of a project at a university, which many see as an enlightened place, would do such a thing.

Are you kidding? The university is one of the places where the divisions between classes of workers are most clearly demarcated.
posted by enn at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2011 [26 favorites]


I dunno, I think what I take away from this is that sweatshops are terrible when it's Americans in the sweatshops.

The what now? Did I also miss the part in the video where it discussed the pay and benefits the yellow badge workers get? Didn't look like a bunch of sweatshop workers walking out of that building.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:34 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's adorable when people expect companies to be "different". Particularly public companies. Quarterly results, people.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:34 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ants.
posted by a non e mouse at 4:34 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, this has now been pointed out twice in this thread, but neither of you has explained how that makes any difference to the argument.

What do you mean? People in the thread are claiming that contractors don't get these perks, whereas the article says they do. I wasn't making an argument, I was clearing up misinformation.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


The what now? Did I also miss the part in the video where it discussed the pay and benefits the yellow badge workers get? Didn't look like a bunch of sweatshop workers walking out of that building.

Hyperbole (pronounced /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-PUR-bə-lee[1]; from ancient Greek ὑπερβολή 'exaggeration') is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

By comparison to the relative perks of wearing a different badge, this is a sweatshop. If there wasn't a clear distinction between the badged groups, this guy wouldn't have made a big deal about how their working conditions was difficult to reconcile with the image Google portrays.

Anyway, I could have been clearer.
posted by doublehappy at 4:38 PM on April 30, 2011


I think there may be a bit more to it. They may actually be scanning, or doing some other work with confidential documents so this might be a compliance issue. My company has "high security" operations that are run in much the same way to prevent leaks.

Of course I have no actual facts to back this up.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:39 PM on April 30, 2011


By comparison to the relative perks of wearing a different badge, this is a sweatshop.

No. It's not.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:40 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn, I'm an engineer and my company doesn't offer free bikes, company cars, free books, free rub & tug, etc. I had no idea I was working in a sweatshop, but there you go.
posted by indubitable at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just throwing this out there, but this and the Apple thing both seem inevitable consequences of our chosen economic system. Profit matters, social justice not so much. Until we address the basic problems with the system under which these companies operate it's hard to be too directly critical of the companies.
posted by polyhedron at 4:44 PM on April 30, 2011


Damn, I'm an engineer and my company doesn't offer free bikes, company cars, free books, free rub & tug, etc. I had no idea I was working in a sweatshop, but there you go.

I can't recall a single person that I know that enjoys these perks. Guess we all work at sweatshops.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:44 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Try wandering around your corporate workplace with a video camera and asking employees leaving work for interviews. See what happens. From Google's point of view, this guy became someone with questionable motives, and you don't want someone like that to have access to your campus.

The secrecy surrounding these yellow badges is weird and interesting, but it's hardly outrageous that this guy lost his job for playing investigative reporter.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The motto "Don't be evil" is strange, you know? Isn't being non-evil the standard operating procedure? One of the givens of participating in humanity?

For instance, if some company's motto was "Don't kill people" I'd be afraid that they may, you know, kill people.

Would you bring your children to a daycare whose motto is "Don't beat the children"?

If you constantly have to remind yourself not to do something that should be second nature, well, something is deeply wrong with your fundamental approach.
posted by Freen at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2011 [31 favorites]


The secrecy surrounding these yellow badges is weird and interesting, but it's hardly outrageous that this guy lost his job for playing investigative reporter.

Once again: you may not think it is outrageous, but it is illegal in the US to fire or disclipine someone for discussing wages or working conditions with his fellow employees. Even if he is doing it on video.
posted by enn at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


This is a difficult place to be in. At my office we had to hire ~10 temp workers to do boring, monotonous filing. They were spread out across 2 conference rooms next to my office. The guy who was in charge of it initially was "cool" and let them take smoke breaks and phone breaks at their leisure. Their productivity plummeted drastically, like kids in detention without supervision.

Part of me can't blame them, if I was doing boring monotonous work I'd probably slack off any chance I got. I can definitely see why Google doesn't treat them like your average engineer. I would even go so far as to guess that they probably don't treat the free Google bikes and such as nicely as their engineers do either.

So part of me thinks this is an outrage, the other part of me knows things that work for highly skilled, motivated people are counterproductive as the quality of the labor pool diminishes.
posted by geoff. at 4:58 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The motto "Don't be evil" is strange, you know? Isn't being non-evil the standard operating procedure? One of the givens of participating in humanity?

Not when we are dealing with companies. Evil might not even be a good term but companies people working at companies do bad things on a daily basis, stuff that would appall them if it affected a friend or family member. Being truly ethical in a business can be incredibly difficult and rare.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:59 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the context of working at Google, then? I used the word sweatshop because it has a pretty well understood meaning that could be rhetorically played off against the relative privilege and perks of even having a job in the United States with my ultimate point being that these people have it pretty good compared to an actual sweatshop, which seems to be a similar point that you're making in call me out - i.e. I think we probably agree, but I chose my words poorly. Maybe I should have done that thing people do with their fingers to denote inverted commas while I said "sweatshop".
posted by doublehappy at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2011


By comparison to the relative perks of wearing a different badge, this is a sweatshop.

Again, seriously, how? Let's say Google builds a new building on campus and contracts the services of plumbers, electricians and dry-wallers. Let's say these contractors are given security badges so they can access the buildings they need access to. Let's say the badges are yellow. Let's say another company provides video editing services, but needs to work with different teams across Googleplex. He's given a red badge. Colors are fun! Which contractor do you think gets to ride the bicycles and given thumb drives?

but it is illegal in the US to fire or disclipine someone for discussing wages or working conditions with his fellow employees.

They weren't his fellow employees. He worked for a video company providing a services to Google. They worked for a document scanning company providing services to Google. He was fired for filming where is apparently wasn't supposed to be filming.
posted by rh at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


♪♪♪ It's A Turf War
On A Global Scale
I'd Rather Hear Both Sides
Of The Tale
See, It's Not About Races
Just Places
Faces
Where Your Blood
Comes From
Is Where Your Space Is
I've Seen The Bright
Get Duller
I'm Not Gonna Spend
My Life Being A Color ♪♪♪ 

posted by blue_beetle at 5:03 PM on April 30, 2011


They weren't his fellow employees.

I meant "fellow persons having the status of employees," not "fellow employees of the same company." The Wagner Act protections are not limited to employees of the same legal entity.

He was fired for filming where is apparently wasn't supposed to be filming.

He had explicit permission from his manager to film.
posted by enn at 5:04 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it might be worse if the yellow-badges were given those perks, because it would conceal beneath a fake egalitarian facade the underlying reality that their paychecks are dramatically lower, their continued employment much more precarious, they likely have less generous health benefits, more health problems due to repetitive manual labor, etc. I think most of them would be much more concerned about those issues than whether they get to enjoy the slightly ridiculous "perks" that are really designed to encourage the white collar knowledge workers to work 24/7. Why should they envy us? That these perks are very popular should only remind us of Spinoza's question: "Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?"

In a way, insisting that yellow-badge workers should be "treated equally" in only the most superficial ways is an attempt to suppress the truth of white collar work: it depends on an invisible underclass of menial laborers who must be kept out of sight to maintain the fiction that our society has overcome the bad old repetitive, alienated factory labor conditions.

But again, we should be careful to not idealize knowledge labor as somehow free of exploitation. The invisibility of menial laborers not only conceals their conditions, it also serves as an ideological fantasy directed towards white collar workers, to make them believe that the apparent absence of factory labor conditions means that they aren't also being exploited.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:09 PM on April 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


So I re-read the article twice, and I'm really at a loss for some of the comment takeaways here. I mean, can't the article also be summarized as:

Andrew Norman Wilson was fired from his job at Google for waving a flag yelling he was going to be laying legal/PR land mines for the company's grounds if that was okay while either being naieve or ignorant about their expected retaliation.

How could he not understand that a video seeking to document how the shitty jobs are shitty at a company be seen as harmful to the company's eyes?
posted by cavalier at 5:10 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because you're not gonna get rid of shitty working conditions unless you get rid of capitalism, and you're not gonna get rid of capitalism.

Well, not with you around to bring us down, Mr. Mopeypants.
posted by regicide is good for you at 5:12 PM on April 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


Are you kidding? The university is one of the places where the divisions between classes of workers are most clearly demarcated.

I wasn't saying this was my position, but rather that most people think of Universities as enlightened places.
posted by zippy at 5:14 PM on April 30, 2011


I think it might be worse if the yellow-badges were given those perks, because it would conceal beneath a fake egalitarian facade the underlying reality that their paychecks are dramatically lower, their continued employment much more precarious, they likely have less generous health benefits, more health problems due to repetitive manual labor, etc.

Aside from the healthcare issues--which, as everyone on Mefi knows, is a systemic problem best solved by single-payer healthcare--I don't see why either the lower paychecks or the precarity of employment are evidence of any special degree of exploitation (and keep in mind that we still know nothing concrete about them except for the absence of perks). Is there any reason why page-turning should be remunerated at the same level as writing code, or why a job that can be done by literally any adult capable of moving their arms should be as secure as one requiring specialized certification and training?
posted by nasreddin at 5:17 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


the fiction that our society has overcome the bad old repetitive, alienated factory labor conditions.

I've never met anyone who believes this, and in fact have encountered many people who wish repetitive, alienated labor would return to the United States in the form of manufacturing jobs.
posted by nasreddin at 5:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Once again: you may not think it is outrageous, but it is illegal in the US to fire or disclipine someone for discussing wages or working conditions with his fellow employees. Even if he is doing it on video.

At my previous employer (a defense contractor), I could have been fired simply for bringing a camera to work, and that includes the parking lot. Sure, this was Google's camera, but he doesn't seem to have been using it in a Google-approved way.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:21 PM on April 30, 2011


I think we probably agree, but I chose my words poorly.

Wow. Yeah.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:25 PM on April 30, 2011


the fiction that our society has overcome the bad old repetitive, alienated factory labor conditions.

I've never met anyone who believes this, and in fact have encountered many people who wish repetitive, alienated labor would return to the United States in the form of manufacturing jobs.

Just to expand on this: I've seen this trope a lot in some of the trendier marxy-schmarxy critical literature--there are a lot of articles in which the author postures as the great theorist heroically demystifying the ideology of immaterial labor or something. As far as I can tell, the idea that immaterial labor is free from material exploitation exists nowhere except a) in the heads of critical theorists who've read too much David Harvey and b) a couple of issues of Fast Company from 1998.
posted by nasreddin at 5:29 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't particularly like google but this looks fairly tame. There's a fair number of document scanning services in the valley, so in a sense, they've hired this business to come in and scan some amount of books. They probably have a service that does the grounds upkeep and janitorial staff and none of them work for google. Essentially these are all services google wants but doesn't want to get in the business of operating. That they are secretive about it is weird but not outside the realm of general corporate paranoia. That he lost his job is not surprising, contractors at big companies are generally expected to be seen and not heard and he was a noisy contractor. This could have happened at any company
posted by doctor_negative at 5:32 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


A week later I approached a few of them to see if they would be willing to have a conversation in the near future about their jobs. The first girl mostly ignored me and started talking to someone on her cell phone. Two other young men said they’d be happy to talk about their work and accepted business cards with my email address. Another young man I approached was also willing to discuss his work. About the job, he briefly said that “it’s not what I want to be doing but it pays the bills.” Before I could give him my email address, a very agitated chubby white male with a red badge wedged himself between us and demanded that I show him my badge and tell him who my manager was. He told me the yellow-badged workers were “extremely confidential people” doing “extremely confidential work”, and I was standing in an “extremely confidential area”. He then reprimanded the yellow-badge worker for talking to me. I then found out the chubby white man knew what I was doing because the first girl I had spoken to had followed the instructions on the back of her yellow badge – which is to call a certain manager if anyone asks about the work of the yellow badge class.

This actually is rather disturbing. It's not the conditions that the yellow-badge workers are under (although they do have to report to work at 4 a.m. for some reason), it's how anxious Google becomes when someone investigates them. It's almost like they have something to hide.
posted by JHarris at 5:38 PM on April 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


But wait, why is Google even paying people to scan books at all? Listen up, Larry and Sergey, you dum-dums...here's how you do it. I'll even write it in BASIC for you dorks:
10 Take out classified ad announcing a Google Job Fair: "Excellent pay, excellent benefits, excellent perks! No computer skills or experience required."

20 At the "Job Fair," explain the details of the well-paying Google Book Scanner position. Talk a whole lot about how great the job is; talk a little about the actual responsibilities of the job, like how to scan a book.

30 Explain that, to ensure employee competence, all applicants must pass a short fun "audition," where they'll scan three books.

40 Conduct "auditions." Keep book scans. Dispose of applications.

50 IF applicant emails about the status of their application, PRINT "I'm sorry, but at this time all positions have been filled. We've kept your application on file, and if a position open up we'll get in touch. There is no need to respond to this message."

60 IF there are still books to scan, GOTO 10

70 IF all the books in the world have been scanned, END
That's how you run a business, Google! Oh, what's that? My code isn't up to spec? That's because, unlike you, I live off my wits, not my programming prowess. Now get to work on letting me include punctuation in my searches. It's the 2011s, for Christ's sake.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:40 PM on April 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


30 Explain that, to ensure employee competence, all applicants must pass a short fun "audition," where they'll scan three books.

Three? Just make it a timed test and make sure to mention that candidates will be judged on a combination of accuracy and speed.
posted by doublehappy at 5:44 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's an excellent point. Say, I could use someone like you here at the office. Would you be interested in joining an exciting business with lots of growth potential? I could send you details about the application process...
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:45 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's almost like they have something to hide.

So you're saying that it's possible that in the highly competitive tech field, Google may have secret projects that they're working on?
posted by eyeballkid at 5:49 PM on April 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Freen: "The motto "Don't be evil" is strange, you know? Isn't being non-evil the standard operating procedure? One of the givens of participating in humanity?

For instance, if some company's motto was "Don't kill people" I'd be afraid that they may, you know, kill people.

Would you bring your children to a daycare whose motto is "Don't beat the children"?

If you constantly have to remind yourself not to do something that should be second nature, well, something is deeply wrong with your fundamental approach.
"

My fundamental approach is not to telegraph my punches. So I usually don't talk about it. But I am not a business. OTOH if my customers were a huge cross section of the world, I might have a saying like that. And I'd keep them believing that. And they would, because I'd hew to that for a long damn time. Probably until I had a board of directors and was on the stock exchange. Then I would realize that my my aw shucks beginning no longer applies.

And then I'd sell the company for a crapload of money. Or if I was a group of people (and I'm big enough right now, damn sandwiches) I'd probably do what Google is doing and drop my ethics into a cocked hat and go for the cash.

Ain't power wonderful?
posted by Splunge at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2011


It's almost like they have something to hide.

Yes, new products and services. Hence the non-disclosure agreement that the former contractor signed.
posted by rh at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that it's possible that in the highly competitive tech field, Google may have secret projects that they're working on?

You know yourself that the people working on 'secret' projects probably get more perks, not fewer, and aren't treated like they're in a prison labour system.

At my former university library we hired students to do essentially this job. We probably didn't pay them as well as google, plus the institution was actually putting them into debt and letting them do these kinds of jobs as a way of paying off some tiny amount of their company store debt. If you put one of our students doing this scanning's job against a Google employees I'd guess they would probably come out even.

That said it's weird that Google would penny pinch so severely in one specific area of their business.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:53 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The original blog post had so few details, and was basically only speculation and innuendo, so who's to say for sure what the "yellow badges" did for google and what their wages were like? I personally thought that it makes sense for them to have different access/perks than other employees and contractors because:
-they are low-skill contractors who are probably on a very short-term contract (due to the current issues surrounding google books and its precarious existence, at least until those legal issues are sorted out--assuming that's what they were hired to do)
-they are, for whatever reason, part of a "top secret" project on the google campus, and therefore google clearly doesn't want them mixing with other employees or contractors (as evidenced by their confidentiality rules, "high-security" building, requirement to call if they are questioned about their work, unusual work hours, etc.).

Perhaps they had other minor perks (maybe they got higher pay and pizza lunches?) or maybe not, but I don't really see this as suddenly google = nazi concentration camp (and forgive the awful comparison, but that's the sense I'm getting from some comments here and on the HW site).

In my own personal opinion, I don't really see what the big deal is, and Mr. Wilson's blog doesn't really seem to provide any evidence, directly or indirectly, of any wrongdoing or nefarious actions on google's part.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:53 PM on April 30, 2011


Space Coyote:
You know yourself that the people working on 'secret' projects probably get more perks, not fewer, and aren't treated like they're in a prison labour system.

However, we have no evidence that the "yellow badges" are being treated like they're in a prison labour system, other than the one very vague (and suspicious, in my eyes) blog post by Mr. Wilson, unless I'm missing something that was posted above.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2011


So you're saying that it's possible that in the highly competitive tech field, Google may have secret projects that they're working on?

There's nothing secret about this project except that no one's allowed to talk with the people doing the scanning. And if the project is extra-super-secret, the best way to keep it as such is to give the people working conditions good enough that they'll be more apt to keep their job than rock the boat.

Honestly, some of the responses given by people here are infuriating. Why the hell are people so apt to make excuses on behalf of gigantic businesses? For some reason I'm reminded of the phrase "colonization of the mind."
posted by JHarris at 5:57 PM on April 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


*does deep research on Ian A.T. and disseminates his style of work far and wide so nobody else falls for his work-for-free schemes*
posted by hippybear at 5:58 PM on April 30, 2011


What excuses? There's nothing wrong with different employees having different pay and benefits packages, and there's nothing wrong with prohibiting your employees from filming on the premises. I'd have fired this guy, too, tbh, especially after he 'lost' the tape.
posted by empath at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


That there are differing classes of access/jobs in any company should not be a secret. Contractors and third party companies will necessarily have different perks and benefits, that's part and parcel of the business world today.

This just reminded me of Hermione and her campaign to free the House Elves.
posted by arcticseal at 6:01 PM on April 30, 2011


ride the Google bikes, take the Google luxury limo shuttles home, eat free gourmet Google meals, attend Authors@Google talks and receive free, signed copies of the author’s books, or set foot anywhere else on campus except for the building they work in

How vigorously do they enforce any of this stuff?
I mean, I've worked at many a corporate borg and I usually just stick my badge* in my pocket and go about my business.

Not once have I ever been challanged for being where I wasn't supposed to be, or doing what I wasn't supposed to be.
Sure, some doors are locked to me because I don't have the proper rfid tag, and yes, I couldn't pay for meals with my ID card, but 90% of the "employee only" things are perfectly accessible to everyone else.

*Or just left it at my desk. It's a personal quirk, I don't like wearing a nametag.
posted by madajb at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honestly, some of the responses given by people here are infuriating.

So, what, you want us to jerk our knees a little? Even if you're a fervent burn-the-rich Marxist, I don't see anything special to object to here. If you were maybe a little more coherent about what your problem with Google is then we could theoretically even have an enlightening discussion rather than a bunch of red-flag-draped dick-waving.
posted by nasreddin at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This just reminded me of Hermione and her campaign to free the House Elves.

THERE WAS NO CAMPAIGN TO FREE THE HOUSE ELVES!!!

(say all my friends who have never read the books, only seen the movies)
posted by hippybear at 6:03 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a currently unemployed person who would like working at google doing data entry, I say no real story here. Google hires people at low wages...unlike...everyone else ever?
posted by Felex at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was hired jointly by Transvideo Studios and Google

This guy seems to be clueless, from the very first line. He was not hired jointly by Transvideo and Google. He was hired and paid by Transvideo who had a contract with Google. He was an employee of Transvideo. He was not an employee of Google. He was a guest at Google and abused his guest privileges and now he is a whiner.
posted by JackFlash at 6:14 PM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


A much more plausible explanation of Google's anxiety is that they were worried about information leaking to their competitors, which in 2007 still included Microsoft, or becoming evidence in the the then-unsettled litigation brought against Google by members of the book publishing industry. One reason for thinking this might be the case is his admission that he was violating the non-disclosure policy he had signed.

Also, I saw this as a nice way to meet people who work right next to me but are very clearly not the same class as me.

Somebody show this man a copy of Barton Fink.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


How vigorously do they enforce any of this stuff?
I mean, I've worked at many a corporate borg and I usually just stick my badge* in my pocket and go about my business.


I am a temp at a similar job, I can't describe it due to an NDA, but I will merely say that it is an "intellectual sweatshop" at low wages. I have a red badge, it opens certain doors. Permanent workers have a blue badge, it opens other doors. I saw someone with a red badge try to walk in through a blue door, behind someone with a blue badge. Security pounced on him. The site manager pounced on him. This is all done electronically with RFIDs and alarms rang the moment he stepped out of line. We workers are now interchangeable parts, it is cheaper and easier to replace the workers than the badges.

And this job is horrible. Perhaps I'll talk about it soon, since I learned that no contract (even an NDA) can be used to cover up illegal activity. I just filed an EEOC action against them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:16 PM on April 30, 2011 [19 favorites]


The workers wearing yellow badges are not allowed any of the privileges that I was allowed – ride the Google bikes, take the Google luxury limo shuttles home, eat free gourmet Google meals,attend Authors@Google talks and receive free, signed copies of the author’s books, or set foot anywhere else on campus except for the building they work in. They also are not given backpacks, mobile devices, thumb drives, or any chance for social interaction with any other Google employees.
Emphasis mine.

Now let's just imagine that that wasn't Google, but Any Company. Indeed the story is about Google, but the topic is not Google at all.

A necessary premise: usually security guards really secret stuff (financial data, trade secrets, secret recipes etc) in a manner so tight (when properly done) few people get to know about the secret, the so called "on a need to know basis" level of security.

Now, Any Company happens to host meetings that are comparatively "open", that is most people are allowed to join these meetings or social events. Why should Any Company forbid some employees to take part to some events?

Actually it's way convenient to excuse anything with a need for "security" or "company secrecy": an example of paranoid useless security is the one that forbids people from taking pictures of places that can be easily accessed and are often routinely accessed by hundreds of people, such as metro stations, communal areas.

Exactly because there areas are accessed by hundreds, unless every person entering is carefully searched, it is exceedingly easy to enter with a microcamera, the kind of stuff used for Candid Camera. Imagine what a determined spy, well equipped and prepared, could do without anybody noticing anything.

A lot of people are also forbidden by Non Disclosure Agreements to talk about what they do at their job; yet an agreement that forbids an employee to discuss absolutely anything about his work is suspect to say the least - suspect because few working position require that much secrecy.

So, what's so upsetting about having a person taping people and asking question when they come out of a workplace?
posted by elpapacito at 6:17 PM on April 30, 2011


He was a guest at Google and abused his guest privileges and now he is a whiner.

Shit, I sure as hell don't want you on a picket line with me.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:18 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean, I've worked at many a corporate borg and I usually just stick my badge* in my pocket and go about my business.

That wouldn't fly at tech companies where I've worked. Not only did the badge color make a difference, but there's be scanners at doors inside the building to further limit access. If you were spotted without a badge you'd have to leave and get it -- after you've told the security guy who you were (well, your badge number) and your boss' (or if you were a temp/contractor your sponsor's) name. They'd get an email from corp security telling them about my discretion. My boss didn't care, but he'd always joke about it....one more infraction and I'd be on double-secret probabation.
posted by birdherder at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is depressing as hell to read this thread the day before May Day.
posted by twirlip at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I sure as hell don't want you on a picket line with me.

He was not an employee of Google. He seems to have forgotten that fact.
posted by JackFlash at 6:25 PM on April 30, 2011


Shit, I sure as hell don't want you on a picket line with me.

I can't imagine how good your job must be that you think bullshit like this is worth picketing over. We aren't talking about McDonald's or Walmart here, people.
posted by empath at 6:29 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


charlie don't surf : I saw someone with a red badge try to walk in through a blue door, behind someone with a blue badge. Security pounced on him. The site manager pounced on him. This is all done electronically with RFIDs and alarms rang the moment he stepped out of line.

Lie much, charlie?

First of all, RFIDs don't quite work the way you think they do. Yes, they can, but they don't.

Second, every single office, once on-campus, doesn't have its own security armada waiting around like Empire stormtroopers eager to fire randomly into a crowd.

And finally, I've actually worked a job like that, fairly "sensitive" work with a hardcore delineation between classes of workers. And if I wanted to take a red-badge into my office, guess what? I could. Security would have asked me to vouch for the redbadge behind me, end of story (not to mention, why would any redbadge have wanted to follow me for non-nefarious reasons? Access to the free soda machine, or just to enjoy the ambiance of your typical cubical farm with a hundred cookie-cutter workstations, all totally locked down so even their own users barely have enough access to do their jobs?)
posted by pla at 6:29 PM on April 30, 2011


* cubicle.
posted by pla at 6:31 PM on April 30, 2011


He was not an employee of Google. He seems to have forgotten that fact.

He also seems to have forgotten his NDA. It almost certainly says that he can't go yapping about work with people not covered under the SAME NDA.
posted by MissySedai at 6:39 PM on April 30, 2011


"Solidarity Forever" doesn't apply to clueless, attention-seeking dumbasses.
But if you should investigate conditions where you work
Or ask why yellow-badge employees don't get any perks,
We hope that you get fired, 'cause it shows that you're a jerk.
For the union makes us strong!
Funny, they seem to have left that verse out of the IWW Songbook.

He was not an employee of Google. He seems to have forgotten that fact.

The very first sentence of the article: "In September 2007 I was hired jointly by Transvideo Studios and Google, both headquartered in Mountain View California."

I can't imagine how good your job must be that you think bullshit like this is worth picketing over.

The issue is not that everyone is entitled to free meals and shuttle rides. The issue is that a guy got fired for asking why one class of employees is treated worse than the rest, even though he apparently had a right to ask those questions under American labour law as well as the permission of someone higher up to do so.
posted by twirlip at 6:44 PM on April 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


He also seems to have forgotten his NDA. It almost certainly says that he can't go yapping about work with people not covered under the SAME NDA

Conducting social research (what age, what color of skin, what eduction etc) is the same as yapping about work?
posted by elpapacito at 6:48 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


twirlip: "The issue is not that everyone is entitled to free meals and shuttle rides. The issue is that a guy got fired for asking why one class of employees is treated worse than the rest, even though he apparently had a right to ask those questions under American labour law as well as the permission of someone higher up to do so."

My sentiments exactly. Hence my references to not wanting to be on picket lines with the people in this thread who were talking about "whiners".

Fuck, man. The last person I heard use the term "whiner" in real life was one of those mean kids in high school who went on to do exactly nothing.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:50 PM on April 30, 2011


Didn't you hear? He has his own whinery.
posted by box at 6:51 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The issue is that a guy got fired for asking why one class of employees is treated worse than the rest, even though he apparently had a right to ask those questions under American labour law as well as the permission of someone higher up to do so.

Well, unfortunately no, what he did probably wasn't covered by US labor law. You see, US labor law doesn't really work all that well.

Since he's employed by a company contracted by google, and they're employed by a different company contracted by google, and he was asking them about their working conditions, he doesn't seem to have been engaging in "protected, concerted activity".
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:52 PM on April 30, 2011


PS I'm not saying it was right, or acceptable what happened to him, just probably not illegal.

Also, though, some of the things that happened in general may have been illegal, if Google or the company that employs the red-badges could be seen as interfering with the rights of the red-badges to discuss working conditions. But this guy would probably not be considered to have had his legal rights violated.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:54 PM on April 30, 2011


Why is the building labeled 3.1459? If its a Pi reference, its incorrect...
posted by FuturisticDragon at 6:56 PM on April 30, 2011


Ya know, you guys just about have me convinced that every working person should get exactly the same benefits and pay. Why does my boss get an expense account and an office? Text me when the revolution starts because I am in.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:00 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Text me when the revolution starts because I am in.

....if you want the revolution, you need to start it yourself. :)
posted by storybored at 7:07 PM on April 30, 2011


Hey you know what? It's OK to take companies to task for treating people like line items. It really is OK.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:07 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


At least he still has clones left. There's always a chance to be promoted to a higher color as long as he stays happy and loyal to the computer.
posted by euphorb at 7:10 PM on April 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Since he's employed by a company contracted by google, and they're employed by a different company contracted by google, and he was asking them about their working conditions, he doesn't seem to have been engaging in "protected, concerted activity".

I'm neither an American nor a labour law expert, but I am a contractor who is supervised by and reports to a different organization than the one I have my contract with, and I'd be shocked and disturbed to discover that the relevant laws work this way. It would be a pretty glaring loophole -- and a fantastic way to prevent people at the same workplace from exercising their right to organize.

Ya know, you guys just about have me convinced that every working person should get exactly the same benefits and pay.

When a user named Ad hominem attacks a straw man, does it count as eponysterical?
posted by twirlip at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the drive over I told him that losing my job right now isn’t all that bad, as I was planning to quit in two months to prepare for grad school. He said that everything happens for a reason, and that he was glad I was being “philosophical” about it. I told him that that’s not really philosophy and he didn’t have much to say after that.
At which point I assume they rehired him so they could fire him again for being a preposterously pedantic asshole.
posted by nicwolff at 7:27 PM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the idea that immaterial labor is free from material exploitation exists nowhere except a) in the heads of critical theorists who've read too much David Harvey and b) a couple of issues of Fast Company from 1998.

And yet Google's work environment is legendary and continues to be a huge recruiting tool for them. Lots of articles have been written about it - is it too cynical to assume that there's a PR team at Google behind a lot of that? Google is presented as a kind of real-life utopia, and the ideological function is to convince people that we don't need to do anything about capitalism, the workers' paradise is already here.

The story here is not that menial labor still exists, even at Google - this is a trivial observation. The story is that somehow someone got in big trouble for possibly exposing something that we are immediately told everyone already knows. Isn't this basically the same as with Wikileaks? Ideology is like fetishistic disavowal: I know the truth, but I act as if I don't know. Of course these kinds of exposures of the truth of worker conditions (or what goes on in secret diplomatic communications) are mostly ineffective, but in some situations, naively pointing out that the emperor is wearing no clothes is an explosive act because it prevents people from pretending that they don't know.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:40 PM on April 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Side note: there's also another huge reason why perks are often restricted by employee role. Perks can be considered taxable income if they're not required for job function or if they don't fall into an allowable category of fringe benefits, such as meals and travel expenses.

As mentioned plenty of times above, the red and yellow badge workers in this case are not employees of Google. They're representing another company that is operating under contract with Google. So not only do you have to consider what's allowable under tax law, you also need to consider what could be seen as a kickback or bribery. Google can't, for example, hand out smartphones to contractors and expect the accountants and lawyers to turn a blind eye.

Now, I'm not implying that the 'free bike rides' could be considered a kickback. I'm just pointing out that who gets certain 'perks' is probably more about tax law than it is about labor law.
posted by rh at 7:55 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why is the building labeled 3.1459? If its a Pi reference, its incorrect...

Wilson's account is inaccurate inaccurate.

Hey you know what? It's OK to take companies to task for treating people like line items. It really is OK.

Exactly where is the mistreatment in this story? 4am - 2:15 pm isn't an especially long shift. The 4 employees he mentions in the story don't seem especially cut up about their jobs; one ignores him, one says it's not his ideal job but it's OK, two say they'd be happy to talk about their work but never bother to call him back subsequently.

True, they don't share in the various perks available to permanent employees at the company HQ. But most permanent employees at Google have PhD-level skills. Operating a book scanner typically does not require very much skill at all. You put the book into a holder, open up the front cover and secure it with a clip, and press a button. On many models, the pages are turned by mechanical means, using a little puff of air to lift the page and a sort of shuttling roller to flip it over. Mainly you're just watching to make sure it doesn't get stuck or skip pages. It's rather dull, but not what you'd call dangerous or exhausting; it's rather less challenging than operating a photocopier.

The job does not come with a bunch of desirable perks because it's not very demanding in physical or intellectual terms. We don't know what the actual pay or other working conditions are because Wilson never actually bothered to strike up a conversation or attempted to make friends with any of the yellow-badge employees; his first contact with them was from behind a video camera, as he explored whether they might make for suitable documentary subject matter, which I find condescending to say the least.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2011


I work with a lot of the contractor staff at my office, and sometimes some of them get really really bunchy about how they don't get to enjoy the perks that full-time employees get -- they don't get the Microsoft Prime discounts, they don't get to participate in morale events, et cetera.

I used to feel really bad for them, until I found out that the lowest paid contract worker on the team I support makes 4 times more than I do per hour.
posted by palomar at 8:07 PM on April 30, 2011


Metafilter: Fetishistic disavowal.
posted by emhutchinson at 8:20 PM on April 30, 2011


It is depressing as hell to read this thread the day before May Day.

Dude, we've gone from locking women in a highly flammable coffin, who were already working horrible hours and in horrible conditions, to denying workers access to free bikes and gourmet cafeterias when their job is to monitor a machine that flips pages in a book. I think that is fucking progress.
posted by geoff. at 8:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


"On the drive over I told him that losing my job right now isn’t all that bad, as I was planning to quit in two months to prepare for grad school."

At which point I assume they rehired him so they could fire him again for being a preposterously pedantic asshole.


Yes, real labor resents posers like this who pretend to have concern but have no real skin in the game. This job is just a brief stop on to their way to a privileged life.

I've walked the picket line and it's serious business. For real laborers, labor relations are not a game. Their livelihoods are on the line. They might lose their homes, they might lose their spouse, they might lose their kids college funds, they might lose their retirement. This guy was not an employee of Google -- he was a contractor. He was not a member of the family. He was taking videos of the family next door and pretending he was concerned.
posted by JackFlash at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


That wouldn't fly at tech companies where I've worked.

Interesting. My experiences were at tech companines, but not actually in the valley itself. Maybe things are more relaxed outside the mothership.
posted by madajb at 8:50 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yet Google's work environment is legendary and continues to be a huge recruiting tool for them. Lots of articles have been written about it - is it too cynical to assume that there's a PR team at Google behind a lot of that? Google is presented as a kind of real-life utopia, and the ideological function is to convince people that we don't need to do anything about capitalism, the workers' paradise is already here.

It's sloppy thinking (though unfortunately very common) to assign an "ideological function" to something that doesn't have an actor behind it. Actually, if anything the Google work environment is (to anyone who thinks about these things) a sign of the glaring inequality of capitalism, since the other thing everyone knows about it is that the most educated people from the most elite schools are the only ones who have a shot at getting the job. This is not even considering the fact that the Google work environment is consistently described as a tool to get the worker to sign over her life to the job completely and minimize the amount of time she needs to spend at home, daycare, driving a private vehicle, etc. And finally, I haven't heard anyone who talks about the environment in glowing terms speak of it as something that applies to the Googleproles who wash the windows and scan the books. (Reading the article, I was actually surprised that contractors get perks at all.)

Also, it's a little annoying to see the Zizek-on-Wikileaks thing get turned into a gotcha like you've done here, since it basically guarantees that you can argue whatever you want. ("You've been lied to! The government is made up of rich white people!" "Well, duh. You can read that on any liberal blog." "Oh, how convenient that 'Everyone already knows,' hmmmmm?")
posted by nasreddin at 8:56 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm much more interested in Google's ageist practices, which is a charge difficult to make stick but which is pretty common knowledge amongst those seeking jobs at the company.

Want to work at Google? Best not be over 40 when you apply. They'll find reasons why you don't fit in the company even if they've headhunted you based on your skills. Even if they've headhunted you more than once, like, say, five or six times. They think they want your skills, they know you'll be a great fit, they'll fly you out for an on-site interview at the Googleplex, but as soon as you walk in the door with grey hair on your head, they will immediately turn cold.

Hard to prove, shitty for all concerned. But, that's Google for ya. They're not evil, unless they are.
posted by hippybear at 9:01 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that is fucking progress.

Again, this is not about free bikes and fancy meals. It is about a guy being summarily fired for daring to ask people who work at the same place as him about their working conditions. Yes, the way he went about it was naive. But his bosses didn't take him aside and say, "Look, what those people do involves trade secrets and we don't want that stuff leaking to our competitors." They took him aside and said, "You're fired," using some bullshit pretext about using company equipment. That is paranoid and high-handed and shows a callous disregard for the guy losing his job. American workers have learned to accept that sort of treatment as normal because a successful decades-long campaign to undermine labour rights has conditioned them to have very low expectations. That's why I find this thread kind of depressing -- so many people here can't even see what's wrong with the way this guy was treated, because they don't expect to be treated any better.
posted by twirlip at 9:02 PM on April 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Conducting social research (what age, what color of skin, what eduction etc) is the same as yapping abou work?

Under the auspices of what study was he conducting his "research"? In what research journal was it to be published?

Satisfying your own personal curiosity, using company equipment, on company property does not become "social research" simply by claiming it is in the course of covering your own ass.

Having signed Google NDAs via a couple agencies - and once for a direct contract - I can tell you that the STFU clauses are strict. They really mean it, they make it clear that poking about into other teams is nearly certain to get you terminated.
posted by MissySedai at 9:09 PM on April 30, 2011


It is about a guy being summarily fired for daring to ask people who work at the same place as him about their working conditions
That is paranoid and high-handed and shows a callous disregard for the guy losing his job

I'm sorry, but what the guy did went far beyond "daring to ask." He made it clear to his bosses that he was planning an expose of some kind--and conveniently lost the tape of his footage. And this is according to his own account, which is the only side of the story we've got here! I'm willing to hate on corporations as much as the next guy, but if you think it's reasonable to expect them to coddle people who have it in for them, you're crazy.
posted by nasreddin at 9:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's also very possible that the people with yellow badges haven't had the same depth of security and background checks as a full-time Google employee. Despite the utopian reputation, I have no doubt the Google campus is more like a high security government office complex than a university. There will be places that most employees are flat-out not allowed to go.
posted by Decimask at 9:36 PM on April 30, 2011


I don't expect them to coddle him. I expect them to be upfront about their problem with what he was doing, and to give him the opportunity to change his behavior. That's not even a radical pro-labor position, it's just a demand for basic respect and a little due process.

I also expect people to get upset when a guy gets fired for investigating working conditions at the place where he works, even if he went about it naively.
posted by twirlip at 9:36 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I mean "expect" the way you mean it when you tell your kids you expect them to behave while the babysitter is taking care of them. I'm not surprised by any of this.
posted by twirlip at 9:41 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lie much, charlie?

Oh knock it off. I am glossing over some details, so as to avoid liability. I'm not busting my NDA yet, that comment came really close.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:53 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, this is not about free bikes and fancy meals. It is about a guy being summarily fired for daring to ask people who work at the same place as him about their working conditions.

I can almost guarantee you that google doesn't give a shit about him asking about their working conditions. They fired him because he was filming, period.
posted by empath at 10:13 PM on April 30, 2011


So you're saying that it's possible that in the highly competitive tech field, Google may have secret projects that they're working on?

It's people. Soylent Green Google is made out of people.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:59 PM on April 30, 2011


How could he not understand that a video seeking to document how the shitty jobs are shitty at a company be seen as harmful to the company's eyes?

How could the company not understand that bringing to light the fact that it is behaving like a dick could be seen as beneficial to the the company?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:27 PM on April 30, 2011


This is a shitty "story" written by someone with an axe to grind.
posted by kdar at 11:58 PM on April 30, 2011


And nobody in this thread has an ax to grind, right? Right.
posted by blucevalo at 12:41 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And nobody in this thread has an ax to grind, right? Right.

I don't. I do have a couple of kitchen knives that need sharpening, though...
posted by daniel_charms at 12:49 AM on May 1, 2011


It's sloppy thinking (though unfortunately very common) to assign an "ideological function" to something that doesn't have an actor behind it.

I've been thinking about this lately, and I don't agree. Something can have an ideological function without being intended as such. Any social order is sustained by ideology, by a set of beliefs; people sustain the social order when they propagate those beliefs, whether they're doing so intentionally or not. A successful, well-connected tech worker talks to everyone he meets about the great working conditions he enjoys at Google; he's not doing it because anybody told him to, but people start to see merit in the worldview he espouses and embodies, because he is prestigious and his experience seems to prove that The System Works. A journalist at some corporate media organ writes a puff piece about Google employees' perks, which her editors are only too happy to publish since it comports well with the set of beliefs they share with their bosses and the companies whose advertising budgets provide their revenue; no one told the journalist or her editors to say nice things about Google, but it happens anyway because everyone down the line has reason to do so; tens of thousands of people read the article and are wowed by how wonderful it can be to work for a big (but friendly!) corporation like Google. A contractor starts asking why some people at Google don't get those wonderful perks; his investigation crosses over into sensitive territory and he gets fired; a bunch of people on the Internet shrug it off because everyone knows the perks are more than anyone has a right to expect anyway, especially when they're just low-paid unskilled laborers.

Of course, you and I are too sophisticated to fall for this stuff -- we can see how great it is at Google, but we can also rest content knowing that we haven't sold ourselves to our employers quite so completely, and anyway we didn't graduate from MIT so of course we're not entitled to free smartphones and luxury limo shuttle rides. But there are lots of people out there who, not being as clever as we are, look at Google and see evidence that capitalism delivers the goods.

All of this benefits the people at the top of the social pyramid, yet they're not directly responsible for any of it. And neither is anyone else, really. It's not a deliberate propaganda campaign by some secret capitalist conspiracy, although Google's paid PR has its part to play (as do corporate-funded think tanks, intentionally biased media outlets, and all the rest). It's just the stuff of everyday life, the sum total of ordinary people acting in ways that make sense in the context they're embedded in. That's what it means to me to say that an apparently "free-floating" idea like Google's utopian image has an ideological function: it greases the wheels of the existing social system, not by design but as a sort of natural byproduct of the way the system is set up.
posted by twirlip at 1:04 AM on May 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Any social order is sustained by ideology, by a set of beliefs; people sustain the social order when they propagate those beliefs, whether they're doing so intentionally or not.

I think you've got that backwards. The social order--in your example, the well-connected tech worker praising Google--sustains an ideology by providing "evidence" (real or illusory) that the ideology is "correct" (or legitimate-looking enough that people will take it as such). So well-intended actions have unintended social consequences that end up providing support for an ideology that our happy Google employee doesn't necessarily want to support.

It seems like a subtle point, but if you speak as though ideas can exist without anybody who thinks about them, you end up obscuring your argument. You end up, shall we say, supporting a Platonist worldview, wherein ideas are Real Things that people and things are manifestations of. That type of sloppy thinking is, I think, a big part of what allows stories like in the FPP to gain so much traction.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:52 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


twirlip : I'd be shocked and disturbed to discover that the relevant laws work this way. It would be a pretty glaring loophole -- and a fantastic way to prevent people at the same workplace from exercising their right to organize.

Something you have to realize about American labor laws - They only protect workers from termination for a very small number of reasons: Age, race, national origin, gender, religion, having a disability, pregnancy, and sexual orientation (though still weaker than the rest).

A US employer can fire you for any other reason. Overheard admitting you voted Democrat? See ya. Prefer dogs to cats when the boss hates dogs? Have a nice life. Refusing to do the boss' laundry (while working as an engineer)? Gone daddy gone.

On top of which, most Americans work "at-will", rather than having an explicit contract spelling out the terms of their employment - So tomorrow, after your mid-morning coffee refill, they could send you packing without reason or recourse.

And as for the rigor of enforcing the "protected" classes of people, generally American companies do not give an explicit reason for your termination - Unless you get caught shooting up in the cab of your delivery truck, no one gets "fired", but rather told "we no longer require your services". So to succeed even in a blatant discrimination case, you need to prove a few peripherals... Specifically, that you belong to a protected class (sounds obvious, but for example alcoholism counts as a disability, while drug addiction usually does not); That you could do the job; That your employer effectively deprived you of your job (does a transfer to a less-desirable but substantially similar job count?); That someone outside your protected class replaced you; AND, that the employer's reason for firing you amounted to a cover-story to hide their real intent.

/ IANALDL
posted by pla at 5:00 AM on May 1, 2011


And as for the rigor of enforcing the "protected" classes of people, generally American companies do not give an explicit reason for your termination - Unless you get caught shooting up in the cab of your delivery truck, no one gets "fired", but rather told "we no longer require your services". So to succeed even in a blatant discrimination case, you need to prove a few peripherals... Specifically, that you belong to a protected class (sounds obvious, but for example alcoholism counts as a disability, while drug addiction usually does not); That you could do the job; That your employer effectively deprived you of your job (does a transfer to a less-desirable but substantially similar job count?); That someone outside your protected class replaced you; AND, that the employer's reason for firing you amounted to a cover-story to hide their real intent.

This is why every at-will employee should have a CYA notebook they write in by hand daily detailing anything good or bad which goes on with any interaction within the workplace.

I left my job in July 2008 after enduring a solid year or so of really horrifying workplace bullying. At first I wasn't sure what was going on (as it often typical in such cases), and I did what I often do when I'm trying to sort out reality and make sure I'm not going crazy -- I started keeping notes on what was happening. Every day, sometimes more than once during the day, I would pull my pocket-sized spiral notepad out of my pocket and make hand-written notes about what new odd awful thing had just been inflicted on me. After a couple of months of this, I could see that things were happening which weren't just me being paranoid, and I started doing some research online and found a name for what I was experiencing -- workplace bullying. And apparently my note-keeping was one of the things which is recommended in such cases, and so I kept doing it, even stepping it up a bit. I started writing down not just negative things which happened, but EVERYTHING which went on when it came to interacting with people where I worked.

When I finally couldn't take it anymore, I quit, and under Washington state law, if you can prove that you left due to a hostile work environment, you can often make an unemployment claim stick despite having left "voluntarily".

The state agency which oversees unemployment claims denied my claim (as I was expecting them to do), and I talked to several lawyers to try to get one to represent me. The one who actually had the most detailed conversation with me about the situation basically told me that if I had been documenting my workplace experiences from the first day of hire, I'd have not only won my case but also could have sued the company for a huge amount of money for emotional distress or whatever. Apparently, the concept of my documentation was perfect, but the fact that I had only started it after the situation had soured meant that there was no way to show that I hadn't worked there under negative conditions for several years already.

But the way he was talking, if I'd started my CYA notebook from day one, and could show a distinct point where the office turned on me and show the length of time I'd worked under daily horror, he would have not only taken my case to get my unemployment covered, but he would have tried to sue for enough money that I'd be handed the company and most of the personal wealth of the management.

So there are things employees can do to help their cause in the case of being illegally fired. And the first thing is, from day one of your employment, start a CYA notebook. Even if you're already employed, start one anyway. It may come in handy someday.
posted by hippybear at 5:21 AM on May 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


The whole point of Google's employment policy is to squeeze as much work out of a highly educated and highly skilled labor pool as possible--hence all the on-campus amenities. Why should they offer those amenities to people who are essentially being paid to turn pages? I mean, obviously low-wage employment sucks, but turning pages at Google isn't any different from tossing packages in trucks at a FedEx Quicksort or any number of non-automated unskilled menial tasks. I don't really see what the issue is.
Well, the issue is that it made him uncomfortable, I guess. Maybe he thinks everyone should get the same perks at work? I think if he did "Michael Moore" Google no one would care.
Puh-lease. Perhaps they've discovered that you can't make it in Corporate America without just a wee bit of evil, but I'll take a company that at least tries over the majority any day.
Or more likely you can't make it as one of the most powerful companies in the world, or whatever. There are lots of smaller companies that produce good value that don't need to do this kind of thing.

Anyway, Google could have handled this by subcontracting out the book scanning to some other company that treated it's employees like shit. That's the American way! Why even do it in the U.S? Surely Malaysians can turn pages as well as Americans!
A US employer can fire you for any other reason. Overheard admitting you voted Democrat? See ya. Prefer dogs to cats when the boss hates dogs? Have a nice life. Refusing to do the boss' laundry (while working as an engineer)? Gone daddy gone.
That's not true, it depends on the state, not federal law. California may have different rules about who can be fired and why.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 AM on May 1, 2011


Honestly, some of the responses given by people here are infuriating. Why the hell are people so apt to make excuses on behalf of gigantic businesses? For some reason I'm reminded of the phrase "colonization of the mind."

Yeah, some of the responses are infuriating. People want Google to be evil just so they can say, "See! I told you so!" and they will stretch and manipulate whatever accusation they can drum up into an opportunity.

Other people's success is what makes people like this so angry.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:21 AM on May 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work for a formerly large, multinational corporation. We don't get free anything. We pay to park our cars. Our perks consist of still having our jobs, for now. We have a lot more in common with the yellow badge employees at Google than we do with regular Google employees. None of us consider ourselves treated poorly.
posted by tommasz at 7:23 AM on May 1, 2011


My family, prior to my generation, was made up of menial laborers and tenant farmers. Funny thing is, they would all have viewed page turning in an air-conditioned facility as an easy, "cushy" job. Let's not overstate the evilness of paying people to turn pages and scan books in a relatively comfortable environment.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:40 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google's very own District 9.
posted by buzzman at 7:53 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google's very own District 9.

oh for god's sake
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is pure speculation, but if Google has one of the highest-throughput book digitalization projects currently running anywhere in the world, wouldn't it make sense for them to recoup some of their costs by scanning other people's papers on contract? Potentially sensitive papers? This sounds like a plausible and sufficient reason for these security precautions.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2011


Ex Googler here - one who also believes that corporations are destroying the planet.

As corporations go, Google is pretty good - but corporations are pretty nasty - and Google has gotten systematically more corporate - which is one of the reasons I left.

On the other hand, I don't see this as particularly evil. Google does have legitimate secrets and people do go to all sorts of extremes to steal them. Don't forget the Chinese spies who betrayed Chinese dissidents - I'd already left by there, but I'm sure that really, really hurt. When I was there, they literally found a reporter hiding in the bushes one day before a big meeting.

I would have to say that security was forced onto Google and wasn't something they were happy to impose.

I personally think Google overreacted here, but only a little (really, he shouldn't have been filming) - but then I don't work there any more.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:46 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in the late 90s I worked as a contractor at Coca-Cola for three years. Contractors, at that time were very clearly and intentionally second-class workers. Contractors wore black badges, employees wore red, management retirees green. We contractors were not permitted to use the company fitness facility, dry cleaner, credit union, or stock purchase plan; we were barred from parking onsite (there was a lot several miles away with short bus shuttles) and were ineligible for subsidized transit passes. There were probably many more perks I was unaware of not having.

We were under the impression that Coke had designed their policies as a result of the Microsoft Permatemp lawsuit. In other words, I don't think these types of policies are rare, and at least in a right-to-work state, they were certainly not illegal.
posted by workerant at 8:55 AM on May 1, 2011


Google went public. If they don't do everything possible to maximize value for shareholders, they'll get sued. No matter what their stated mission and values are, they must maximize profits. Many of us own stocks, seldom directly, more often in mutual funds or pensions. The mutual fund manager or pension manager will also look primarily for profit when they buy/hold/sell stocks.

Want things to change? Consider socially responsible investing.
posted by theora55 at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Google went public. If they don't do everything possible to maximize value for shareholders, they'll get sued.

Welll.... that isn't quite so here.

The terms of Google going public were fairly unique. Most of the stock that's given out is non-voting stock, there are limits on your ability to sue if you have that stock, and there are also very clear statements in the covenants and other legal documents that Google might well do things for non-monetary reasons and if you don't like it, you shouldn't buy the stock.

But your basic idea is completely correct - public companies' primary reason to exist is to maximize stockholder value.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:07 AM on May 1, 2011


if Google has one of the highest-throughput book digitalization projects currently running anywhere in the world, wouldn't it make sense for them to recoup some of their costs by scanning other people's papers on contract?

They wouldn't get the same economies of scale, and there are a lot of companies at work in that area already, who will go to the clients' premises and pick up the documents or even process them on-site. This is usually done in response to a lawsuit, although doing so on an ongoing basis as for general productivity/business intelligence purposes is increasingly common. It's not just about throughput though, it's also about being fairly hands-on with the client and adjusting the parameters of the task to their needs or those specified by their legal advisers.

There is much more value for Google in having first dibs on the content of all the book data - to refine their language processing algorithms, translation technology, and generally broaden their skillset in information sciences, which is rivalled only by IBM, Microsoft and a few others.

Google went public. If they don't do everything possible to maximize value for shareholders, they'll get sued.

This is a common misconception. Management have much greater latitude in the fulfillment of their fiduciary duties, and are much less susceptible to legal challenge about it, than many people imagine. Otherwise you would see a lot more shareholder lawsuits/motions against corporate boards over issues of executive compensation and so forth. In practice, such lawsuits are usually only launched against companies which are on the ropes, as part of a takeover maneuver.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:24 PM on May 1, 2011


Under the auspices of what study was he conducting his "research"? In what research journal was it to be published?

Satisfying your own personal curiosity, using company equipment, on company property does not become "social research" simply by claiming it is in the course of covering your own ass.
Feh, if you want to do social research, going through official channels will lead you to little, usually to a bunch of prepackaged data by the press office, or at best being allowed to submit a questionnarie to somebody, who will screen it for offending material or for something that could be constructed so as to negatively affect the company's image (that is, anything).

Anyhow, covering your ass for commiting which hideous crime exactly, asking questions? And he didn't "use company property" without permission (another hideous crime that in itself didn't damage anybody) as
Eventually I asked a superior on my team if I could borrow a camera to go out in the parking lot and videotape the yellow-badged workers leaving the 3.14159~ factory.
Having signed Google NDAs via a couple agencies - and once for a direct contract - I can tell you that the STFU clauses are strict. They really mean it, they make it clear that poking about into other teams is nearly certain to get you terminated.
Whoa! What kind of nuclear research is it going on at Google, that most of people are prevented from talking about their jobs? Usually people who have to keep a secret know exactly what not to talk about, and can easily respond (and are instructed to respond) with a "no comment" or with useless generalities leading to exactly nothing: not that a serious spy would ever consider just trying without a backup plan, like seducing relevant personnel slowly exctracting information from them. It has been done for years, will be done for years, and no amount of paranoia security will ever stop that. Yet, very few people in an organization are that important, even if many like believing their job is precious and irreplaceable.
posted by elpapacito at 3:33 PM on May 1, 2011


Google's very own District 9.

Thanks. Do you have anything else available in the bottle besides PBR? No? Jesus, what is it with these places these days?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:56 PM on May 1, 2011


Again, those people who are defending Mr. Wilson's position are taking his claims on a blog at face value. There are two sides to every story. Call me cynical, but I'm going to take whatever he says with a grain of salt. Who's to say that he's telling the complete truth, or telling the truth at all?

Feh, if you want to do social research, going through official channels will lead you to little, usually to a bunch of prepackaged data by the press office, or at best being allowed to submit a questionnarie to somebody, who will screen it for offending material or for something that could be constructed so as to negatively affect the company's image (that is, anything).

Perhaps, but this guy ISN'T A JOURNALIST, he's a contracted employee (or was). What business does he have in asking those kinds of questions and attempting to do "social research" at google? He was hired to do his job, not to "conduct social research about working conditions and class" at google. I'm fairly confident that if you started to videotape and interview employees about their working conditions (especially when you know their positions are "top secret" or sensitive), and handing them your contact info. at home, you're going to set of some alarm bells and very likely get fired by your employer, no matter where you work.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:17 PM on May 1, 2011


*handing them your contact info at home, in order to conduct further off-site "research" about their "secret" working conditions, I mean.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:18 PM on May 1, 2011


The yellow badges are the first to die when the bridge consoles blow. They need better than this joker running around like he's got a blue badge.
posted by fuq at 7:52 PM on May 1, 2011


I think the reason this guy got fired is that he was making inquiries above his clearance, and his behaviour was threatening to the organization he was working for. I don't see this as being anymore evil than any similar situation.

(I'll also note that this webpage has a blue background. If you don't have at least blue clearance, reading this comment makes you a communist, a mutant, and a traitor.. turn yourself in to the computer."
posted by TheKM at 11:46 PM on May 1, 2011


I'd like to take this opportunity to remind hiring managers at Google that you've received my resume at least twice this year. Just because you can afford the best doesn't mean you shouldn't settle for me.
posted by Eideteker at 8:03 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder how many arguments in Googles favor here are being made by holders of Google stock. Just too many pro-Google comments from what is usually obviously quite a progressive group of people.

I've worked temps a lot. I've worked in places where temps were treated as a lower class, and I've worked at places that treated temps like everyone else. Guess which places get the best consideration? Guess which places I quit when the mood strikes me, and to hell with their own schedule? But I can do that because I'm one of the very best there is, at what I do.

I don't ask to go to the bathroom, and I take a cigarette break once an hour. If a client can't deal, they get someone less good than me. Oh, that's old though, since I quit smoking. I guess now it means I chew gum as pleases me. I don't put up with bullshit. I don't work in a broom closet on a make-shift desk (Fuck BofA). I don't pretend to be busy in order to look good.

But jobs are scarce today! You're lucky if you have one! So you better suck up, bend backwards, and kiss ass like crazy, if you want to keep your job! It's all "Yah suh! Massah suh!". Yea baby. Smooch smooch.

Or, you might instead remember you're human and American, and tell 'em to take the job and shove it. And then you do everything in your power to make damn sure that costs them dearly. However you possibly can manage that. The bastards only win if you let 'em.
posted by Goofyy at 6:25 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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