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Google employees working remotely reportedly risk getting paid less

The balancing act is paying people the same no matter where they live vs. the company calling the shots

A new report suggests that Google employees could actually lose money by continuing to work remotely.

According to an internal salary calculator seen by Reuters and others, a Google employee could possibly face a 25% pay cut if they opt to work from home permanently. During the pandemic’s heyday, Google paid staffers who worked remotely less than others based on how much it costs to live in their area. But this move has the earmarks of a shift rather than a wrinkle becau...

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    DOJ says it’s still investigating Google’s acquisition of Fitbit

    Google says the agency’s time limit for delivering a decision has passed

    Google announced on Thursday that its acquisition of Fitbit was complete, saying the deal would bring more sophisticated devices to the wearables market. However, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) now says its investigation into the acquisition hasn’t yet wrapped. 

    In a statement to various media outlets, the DOJ said it’s still looking into the possible effects of the deal. Regulators previously expressed concern that Google could use Fitbit’s large swath of user data to personalize ads. 

    “The Antitrust Division’s investigation of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing. Although the Division has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action, the Division continues to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit may harm competition and consumers in the United States.” 

    The agency added that it is “committed to conducting this review as thoroughly, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.” 

    But Google said in a statement that although the DOJ’s investigation is ongoing, the agency’s time limit for delivering a decision has passed. For this reason, Google said it felt comfortable finalizing the deal.  

    “We complied with the DOJ’s extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed upon waiting period expired without their objection,” the company said. “We continue to be in touch with them and we’re committed to answering any additional questions. We are confident this deal will increase competition in the highly crowded wearables market, and we’ve made commitments that we plan to implement globally.” 

    At this point, there’s no official word on whether the DOJ intends to take legal action against Google or Fitbit. 

    Google announced on Thursday that its acquisition of Fitbit was complete, saying the deal would bring more sophisticated devices to the wearables market. H...
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    Google completes its acquisition of Fitbit

    The company has assured regulators that it will protect consumers’ privacy

    Google announced on Thursday that it has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit. 

    The deal was first announced in November of 2019 and spurred an investigation into what Google planned to do with Fitbit users’ data. Fitbit has health data on more than 28 million users, and European regulators were concerned that the tech giant could use that data to help personalize ads. 

    However, Google assured regulators that the deal was “about devices, not data” and promised not to use Fitbit data if the deal was approved. 

    “This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior Vice President of devices and services, said in a statement.

    “We worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers’ privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data,” he added.

    Privacy commitments secured

    European regulators investigating the deal gave it the green light last month after receiving commitments from Google regarding data privacy. 

    "Google will continue to protect Fitbit users' privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators, confirming that Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data," Chief Executive James Park said in a letter to Fitbit users Thursday.

    Park said the acquisition will enable Fitbit to “do even more to inspire and motivate you on your journey to better health.” 

    “We’ll be able to innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products to support your health and wellness needs. On our own, we pushed the bounds of what was possible from the wrist, pioneering step, heart rate, sleep and stress tracking. With access to Google’s incredible resources, knowledge and global platform, the possibilities are truly limitless.” 

    Google announced on Thursday that it has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit. The deal was first announced in November of...
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    Google workers join forces to establish a members-only labor union

    Organizers feel they can gain support due to reported workplace abuses

    More than 200 Google and Alphabet workers have banded together, trumpeting their intention to form a labor union -- The Alphabet Workers Union -- which will be open to both employees and contractors.

    Its goal will be to tackle ongoing issues like disparity in pay, mistreatment, and controversial government contracts -- many of the issues that a group of U.S. senators pushed Google to stop in 2019. 

    The structure of the union will be members-only. While going that route doesn’t allow the union to negotiate a new contract for its workforce, it will allow it to speak for any employee who seeks to participate, including temporary workers, contractors, and vendors.

    “We’ve had enough”

    While the organizing effort is still in its infancy and built mostly out of Google/Alphabet workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, its organizers are confident that the story they have to tell will help their effort spread.

    “For far too long, thousands of us at Google — and other subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — have had our workplace concerns dismissed by executives,” Parul Koul, the executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, and Chewy Shaw, the union’s vice chair, wrote in a guest editorial in the New York Times on Sunday.

    Koul and Shaw reminded the world that when Google was originally formed, its motto was “Don’t be evil,” then took the company to task for a litany of issues ranging from profiting from ads by a hate group to failing to make necessary changes to meaningfully address retention issues with people of color.

    How much can be accomplished?

    This is not the first time Google/Alphabet workers have joined forces to fight what they consider to be “abuses.” Organized workers at the company were able to get executives to drop Project Maven, the company’s artificial-intelligence program that the Pentagon contracted for, and Project Dragonfly, a strategy to launch a censored search engine in China. 

    Still, the organizers need to prepare for a fight. If the recent past is any indication, Google/Alphabet will not take this effort lightly. Just a month ago, the company was not only accused of violating labor laws by monitoring workers, but by going even further and allegedly retaliating against -- and firing -- workers who were trying to unionize.

    However, Koul and Shaw are confident that the effort can produce some positive results. They point out that some of Alphabet’s subcontractors “won a $15 minimum hourly wage, parental leave, and health insurance” after previous mobilization efforts. 

    “And the practice of forced arbitration for claims of sexual harassment was ended after the November 2018 walkout -- albeit only for full-time employees, not contractors. A few months later, Google announced that it would end forced arbitration for employees for all claims,” the pair wrote.

    More than 200 Google and Alphabet workers have banded together, trumpeting their intention to form a labor union -- The Alphabet Workers Union -- which wil...
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