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The protests at Google are about free expression, not money

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Google employees are organizing, and the company is trying to squash the effort–or so the workers charge based on the company hiring a labor-busting consulting firm (as the New York Times reported). But Googlers’ struggles are not about joining a traditional union, or even fighting for better pay. Instead, they say they’re fighting to return the company to the culture of openness that drew them there in the first place.

The tension hit a new level in recent weeks with the firing of one employee for allegedly leaking company information, and suspension of two others whom Google claims accessed restricted documents (as Bloomberg reported). The employees deny the charges and call their suspensions retaliation for their organizing activities, such as demanding that the company not contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and related agencies.

Whether or not Google management meant to discourage employee organizing, its actions have prompted more such organization. The suspension of Google employees Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland drew several hundred of their coworkers to a demonstration outside the company’s San Francisco offices on Friday.

“Google promotes itself as an open company, an open culture, where you can challenge authority,” one engineer in the crowd told me. But he feels that is no longer the case. (Like everyone I spoke with, the engineer asked........

© Fast Company