After Donald Trump was elected president, someone leaked to Breitbart a video of a Google town hall meeting the technology company held to soothe employee fears. Google’s top executives addressed the group, many of whom were wearing propeller caps, which I believe was a required ritual for new hires.

An executive whose name I don’t remember but had HR responsibilities made a comment that’s always stuck with me. She assured employees that if Trump were to impose policies Google workers found intolerable, the company could pull up stakes overnight and run the business elsewhere in the world. The comment crystallized for me that Google is a corporate citizen of the world, not beholden to any country.

Google gladly did work for China’s Communist government, so much so that billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who some regard as the smartest person in Silicon Valley, years ago called on the FBI and CIA to investigate the company for its “seemingly treasonous” decision to work with the Chinese military instead of the U.S. government.

The media has been running a steady stream of stories about longtime Google employees being notified via email the company was tossing them to the curb. People like Jeremy Joslin, a Google software engineer who toiled at the company for some 20 years. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Joslin recently received an email at 5:30 a.m. directing him to a website for newly laid-off Google employees and instructing him to set up an account. He was one of roughly 12,000 workers Google’s parent, Alphabet, said this month it was letting go.

Nicholas Dufau, a Google associate product counsel on parental leave, received his email layoff notification at 2 a.m. while feeding his newborn daughter.

I’m willing to bet that the email layoffs Joslin and Dufau received were sent by administrative folks located offshore, hence the outside of normal U.S. business hours timing.

The callousness and insensitivity of Google management notifying employees via email they were no longer needed shouldn’t come as a surprise. A company that demonstrates no loyalty to the country that spawned it and allowed its founders great riches can’t be expected to show loyalty to rank-and-file employees, regardless of tenure or contributions.

As the Journal’s headline writer aptly noted, “It’s nothing personal.”

Sandra Sucher, a professor of management at Harvard and the corporate media’s go-to person on layoffs, is to be applauded for her honesty and speaking the truth about how little regard corporate America ultimately has for its employees.

“All corporations say, ‘People are our most important asset,’ but they don’t really seem to believe that,” Sucher told the New York Times.

Employees who championed working from home are the ones who should be least surprised getting laid off via email. “Out of sight, out of mind,” as the saying goes. When an employee’s connection to their employer is a tenuous server, it makes it all too easy for the employer to sever the connection. It’s the corporate equivalent of “unfriending” a friend on Facebook.

Technology has spawned a world where people are increasingly physically and emotionally disconnected. Google employees were complicit in its creation.


Pity PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada. She’s no doubt still trying to understand what she did wrong.

Tejeda last week received a pounding in the media for quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in an email announcing she was cutting 7% of her workforce. Tejeda’s email sparked an online backlash, with multiple journalists calling it a “new low bar for a layoff announcement,” or variations of that superlative.

It’s unfortunate those who were outraged by Tejeda’s tone deafness aren’t readers of this blog. Otherwise, they’d know that Tejeda wasn’t the first clueless CEO to cite MLK in a layoff announcement. Tina Freese Decker, CEO of Grand Rapids-based Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health), can claim that dubious honor.  I called out Freese for invoking MLK in a layoff email last September.

As I noted in my column about Freese Decker, MLK was a staunch supporter of workers’ rights, which made Tejeda’s and Freese Decker’s MLK invocations even more outrageous.

I’m republishing a story that captures the genuineness of MLK’s commitment.

In 1996, Bob Giles, a proud union busting Gannett editor who played a leading role in sparking a bitter newspaper strike at the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, penned a column in which he essentially declared MLK would have supported management in the labor dispute.

“The newspaper strike seeks to resist change and reform,” Giles said. He argued that management’s efforts to replace striking workers was following the tradition of King and Henry David Thoreau by performing “civil disobedience in the face of the established order.”

Giles’ comments found their way to King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, who was outraged. King flew to Detroit and attended a union rally of striking newspaper workers held at New Bethel Baptist Church, the center of the civil rights movement and where famed singer Aretha Franklin’s father once served as pastor. The rally, replete with gospel singers, gave the battered striking newspaper workers a major psychological boost and reminded metro Detroit residents that MLK was first and foremost a champion of workers’ rights and a diehard union supporter.

As I expected, Tejeda has a history of using the Black civil rights cause for promotional purposes. This headline in a June 2020 story in a publication called Protocol says it all:

Freese Decker also is a virtue signaler. Her official bio stresses “she is committed to building a health system that celebrates and reinforces diversity, equity and inclusion for team members, patients, families and members.”

This column I wrote for Deadline Detroit provided some insight about Freese Decker’s diversity commitment.

Tejeda and Freese Decker don’t have inspiring records as CEOs. Under Tejada’s watch, PagerDuty’s stock has languished; at this writing it last traded at $28.70, down 27 percent from when it was listed in April 2019.

Under Freese Decker’s watch, the once stellar safety rating of Corewell’s flagship Grand Rapids hospital declined. The former CFO of Corewell’s predecessor company is on record predicting Freese Decker’s acquisition of a troubled Detroit area hospital system will result in a “massive financial loss.”

Tejeda did her undergraduate studies at University of Michigan, proof yet again that national stories invariably have connections to the Great Lakes State. Google co-founder Larry Page was born in Lansing.


My heart sunk scrolling my LinkedIn feed on Saturday and seeing a photo of legendary hockey player Paul Henderson. Oh no, I feared, Paul Henderson has died.

Turns out, it was a link to an excellent story by Howard Berger about Henderson celebrating his 80th birthday. Berger’s day job is assistant funeral director at Toronto’s Benjamin’s Park Memorial funeral chapel, so I’m especially relieved that Berger met with Henderson on a non-professional basis.

To Canadians of my generation, Henderson will forever remain a hero. In 1972, Henderson scored the winning goal in the eighth and final game of the first matchup between Canada’s best hockey players against the Russians, a competition known as the Summit Series. It was a major moment in Canadian history because Canadians long believed the country spawned the world’s best hockey players, but there was always the nagging doubt the Russians were better.

Every Canadian who was of age that day remembers where they were when Henderson scored his deciding goal.

Henderson had a near brush with death a decade ago when he was diagnosed with cancer, but an experimental treatment and his religious faith helped him beat the disease. Berger says Henderson is in great health.

Dave Keon, my other childhood hockey hero, also is alive.  As is customary to say in the Jewish tradition: To Henderson and Keon: Till 120!

Display art credit: ©bennymarty/123RF.COM

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