Google employees sign manifesto opposing COVID vaccine mandate

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Hundreds of Google employees have signed and circulated a manifesto calling on the Big Tech giant to retract its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Google has asked its more than 150,000 US employees to report their vaccination status to the company by Dec. 3 whether they plan to work in the office or not, CNBC reported, citing internal company documents.

And all Google employees who work either directly or indirectly with government contractors are required to be vaccinated, in line with the Biden administration’s federal mandate for contractors.

However, the manifesto opposing the mandate has been signed by at least 600 Google employees, or less than 0.5 percent of the company’s workforce, according to CNBC.

It asks executives to replace the current policy with a mandate “inclusive of all Googlers,” CNBC reported.

In the manifesto, the employees argue that any policy set by the $1.9 trillion company will have an outsized impact on decisions that other companies make.

The employees who signed it called on other workers to “oppose the mandate as a matter of principle” and said the policy should not affect any worker’s decision on whether or not to get vaccinated.

A medical assistant inserts a needle into the arm of a patient.
Google has asked its more than 150,000 US employees to report their vaccination status to the company by Dec. 3.
Tobia Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

“I believe that Sundar’s Vaccine Mandate is deeply flawed,” the manifesto says, referring to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, according to CNBC. It goes on to call company leadership “coercive” and “the antithesis of inclusion.”

The manifesto adds that the mandate of “barring unvaccinated Googlers from the office publicly and possibly embarrassingly exposes a private choice as it would be difficult for the Googler not to reveal why they cannot return.”

“Such Googlers may never feel comfortable expressing their true sentiments about a company health policy and other, unrelated sensitive topics. This results in silenced perspective and exacerbates the internal ideological ‘echo chamber’ which folks both inside and outside of Google have observed for years.”

The manifesto then questions whether Google should be requiring employees to upload vaccination status to the company’s internal system rather than third parties, such as health benefits providers.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
The manifesto calls Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other company leaders enforcing the mandate “coercive” and “the antithesis of inclusion.”
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

“I do not believe Google should be privy to the health and medical history of Googlers and the vaccination status is no exception,” the manifesto says, according to CNBC. 

Google has reportedly asked employees to upload their proof of vaccination directly to Google’s “environmental health and safety” team.

The letter goes on to argue that the mandate could lead to more restrictive or intrusive requests down the line.

“It normalizes medical intervention compulsion not only for Covid-19 vaccination but for future vaccines and possibly even non-vaccine interventions by extension,” the document says, per CNBC.

Google building.
The Google employees who signed the manifesto claimed that the mandate “silenced perspective and exacerbates the internal ideological ‘echo chamber.’”
Andrew Kelly/REUTERS

“It justifies the principle of division and unequal treatment of Googlers based on their personal beliefs and decisions. The implications are chilling. Due to its presence as an industry leader, Google’s mandate will influence companies around the world to consider these as acceptable tradeoffs.”

A spokesperson for Google confirmed the existence of the circulating manifesto to CNBC.

“As we’ve stated to all our employees and the author of this document, our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running,” the spokesperson said.

“We firmly stand behind our vaccination policy.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
CEO Sundar Pichai lead Google as one of the first major US companies to require vaccines for employees returning to the office.
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

In July, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company would require vaccinations for those returning to offices, becoming one of the first major US firms to do so and paving the way for many others to follow.

In October, Pichai offered a return-to-office update, saying that the San Francisco Bay Area offices were up to 30 percent filled, while the New York offices were at nearly half capacity.

At the time, unvaccinated employees could keep working from home, though most of the company’s employees are expected to the office three days a week starting Jan. 10, according to the company’s latest update.



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