DURHAM – Alphabet plans to lower the salaries of Google engineers in Durham-Chapel Hill as well as in Des Moines, Iowa, and Houston, Texas, according to reporting from Protocol.

In a letter obtained by WRAL TechWire that is authored by self-described “Alphabet Workers of the Triangle area,” petitioners ask the company to “reverse the pay band cut, “reverse the equity cut,” and “make any future salary and compensation decisions transparent and tied to publicly available data.”

A Google employee confirmed the veracity of the petition to WRAL TechWire.

The Washington Post also reported on this story earlier today.  The Post story notes that a spokesperson for Google, Shannon Newberry, told the publication “employees working there have not seen a reduction in salary or in their existing equity grants.”

A group of Google employees formed a union in January 2022, as reported on WRAL TechWire.  The union was announced in the New York Times in January.

Workers in the Triangle were moved into a category known as “discount,” according to the letter, and though they were notified of the decision in “late 2020,” according to the letter, the signers of the petition argue that there was “no transparency into the data used in this decision.”

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Asking for other changes

The petition also addresses a change in the company’s policies surrounding equity compensation:

“Then, in the summer of 2021, an equity reduction policy for this area was announced. When this new policy is implemented in January 2022, equity will be scaled based on the worker’s office location. However, Google has decided to *only* implement this policy in select areas: the Triangle, Des Moines, and Houston. As a result, the equity of workers in other offices will remain unchanged while equity in these 3 growing office locations will be reduced to 25% less than the standard.”

Google announced that it would open its engineering hub with plans to hire some 1,000 workers nearly a year ago.  The company’s site lead said the company could not hire fast enough in the summer of 2021.

Protocol reported that the policy changes would affect some 300 employees currently in the region.

The letter also notes that Google is working to attract a more diverse workforce, which CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a 2020 blog post.  In 2020, only 3.7% of the company’s workforce identified as Black, the company shared in January 2021.

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“Will benefit Google”

The petitioners seek three changes: reversion to prior pay scale, reversion to prior equity compensation policy, and greater transparency.

The final paragraph of the petition reads:

“Taking these steps will benefit Google by increasing trust and retention among workers. Recruiting will get easier, especially at higher levels. So far, Google has struggled to hire here at these levels (internally and externally), where compensation is largely driven by equity. More experienced workers will result in more successful projects as well as better career development for those with less experience. Stronger and better growth at this site will allow Google to grow without increasingly overburdening the populous Bay area.”

Google opened a new Triangle office in January.  The company has not responded to an inquiry from WRAL TechWire.

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