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Google employees protest at Alfabeta's shareholder meeting

For the first time, Google teamed up with several activists and investors to make several suggestions that they presented at a company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday. About 100 Google employees and community activists also protested as a united group outside the Alphabet headquarters during the meeting.

It was an escalation of an organization movement in Google to demand greater transparency from corporate governance and to draw attention to complaints about such issues as the company's sexual harassment policy and its efforts to build a censored search engine in China.

Earlier, shareholders have submitted independent proposals and workers have tried to stop controversial corporate policies. But Wednesday's efforts are the first time the company's employees formed a broad coalition with several activist groups and investors to push Google, according to the organizers of, who helped link employees with investors to collaborate on five shareholder proposals.

Google employees; Silicon Valley Rising Work and Activism Mission; SEIU-USWW (a union representing caretakers and security officers); and community groups helped organize the rally outside the meeting.

"We're here as members of the Google community saying we need to do better," said Wyatt Ratliff, a Google employee. "Many of my colleagues report sexual harassment to HR and HR work to defend the company and the accusations."

One of several shareholder proposals presented on Wednesday asked management to consider whether the company should adopt and implement additional sexual harassment policies and report their findings. Like the other 1[ads1]2 proposals that were in place on Wednesday, it did not pass. A Google Communications Director outside the meeting refused to comment on the protest or shareholder proposals.

Ratliff said that Google has "made some right steps" since the historic employee leadership exit in May, when 20,000 Google workers went back to work to protest against the company's handling of sexual harassment claims, but said, "It's still not enough."

Other Google employees talked about their concerns about working conditions for temporary, contractor and contract staff (TVCs) – which account for more than half of the company's workforce. A TVC in the protest, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that many of his peers are upset with low wages and other workplace issues, but are afraid that management will retaliate if they speak out. Two of the Google Walkout employee organizers have recently accused Google of receiving them because of their role in protests. The alphabet has maintained that it prohibits any retaliation in its workplace.

Finally, it came as no surprise that none of the proposals passed – when the company advised against all the proposals, and Google co-founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin hold 51 percent of the alphabet's voting rights.

Nevertheless, organizers said that despite Alfabet's concentrated corporate power, actions like theirs are putting pressure on the company to take steps on social issues.

A sign from the protest, listing the first names of the members of the alphabet board, read "Sundar, Larry, Sergey, Ruth, Kent – You are not talking to us!"

A Google employee who spoke at the protest asked the audience if they thought it was a "coincidence" that Google recently announced it would invest $ 1 billion against affordable housing after many years of social and employee activism on the issue. An employee at the demonstration told Recode that Wednesday's protest was an attempt to push the company to make more changes. "The alphabet is a great place, it's not just a board," said the staff.

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