Google Is Trying to Poach Amazon's Protesting Employees

In the midst of a crackdown on labor organizing, Google tried to recruit Amazon employees involved in climate activism—seemingly by mistake.
January 28, 2020, 5:13pm
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Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

A Google recruiter posted on LinkedIn on Monday asking Amazon employees involved in activism at their company to apply to work at Google. This was an odd decision considering Google is in the midst of its own crackdown on labor activism, and that Google also works with oil companies in a manner similar to Amazon.

“Hey Amazonions! I recognize your courage and bravery to speak out about climate change. I believe your passion can truly change the world,” Jason Lin, a UX recruiter at Google wrote. “Check out some of the ways Google is actively working to battle climate change below! I'd love to connect with you and talk about how you could take advantage of our 20% time!”

(20% time is Google speak for the hours of the day that Google employees are encouraged to spend pursuing their own passion projects.)

On Sunday, more than 350 Amazon employees purposefully violated their employer’s communications policy by publicly criticizing Amazon for threatening to fire people involved in climate activism at the company.

The irony about the LinkedIn post is that the Google recruiter—clearly well-intended and excited about activism at Amazon—missed his employer’s stance on these issues. Google has been actively clamping down on its own employee activists, and last November and December fired 5 of them.

Curious as to whether the LinkedIn post was a mistake, Motherboard asked Google why it was recruiting Amazon’s climate activists and whether it saw a difference between Google and Amazon employee activists who broke company rules.

The Google recruiter was clearly unaware that Google employees are demanding many the changes to their employer’s climate policy as those made by Amazon workers. In recent months, Google employees have demanded that their employer sever ties with oil and gas companies. More than 2,000 Google employees—inspired by demands made by Amazon workers—signed a letter in November demanding that the company end contracts with fossil fuel companies and eliminate its carbon footprint by 2030. Amazon employees also motivated Google workers to stage a walkout during the global climate strike in September.

A Google spokesperson told Motherboard that it was unaware of the recruiter’s LinkedIn post and that the recruiter had been acting on his own initiative. Hours later, the spokesperson followed up to tell Motherboard that the post had been removed.

Earlier last year, Google hired an anti-union consulting firm presumably to advise it on mounting tensions between workers and management—an unprecedented move at the company long viewed as a model of transparency and democracy in the U.S. workplace.