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Sundar Pichai fires 28 Google employees over sit-in protests over Israeli contract

Sundar Pichai fires 28 Google employees over sit-in protests over Israeli contract


Alphabet Inc.'s Google has fired 28 employees for their involvement in protests against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion joint agreement with to provide AI and cloud services to the Israeli government.

Protests were led by the apartheid organization No Tech for Apartheid and took place across Google's offices in New York City, Seattle and Sunnyvale, California, on Tuesday. Protesters in New York and California held sit-ins for nearly 10 hours, with other participants documenting their actions through Twitch livestreams and other channels. Nine of them were arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of trespassing.

Several workers who participated in the protest, including those who did not directly participate in the sit-in, received messages from the company's employee relations group informing them that they had been placed on leave. Google told affected employees in an email reviewed by Bloomberg that the matter would be kept as confidential as possible and that it would only disclose information on a need-to-know basis.

A statement from Google staff members involved in the No Technology for Apartheid campaign said the workers were informed on Wednesday night that they would be laid off by the company.

Google said in a statement about the protesters that physically interfering with other employees' work or blocking access to our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and completely unacceptable behavior. After refusing multiple requests to leave, law enforcement engaged in removing them to ensure the security of the office. To date, the individual investigations that led to the dismissal of 28 employees have been completed, and we will continue to investigate and respond as necessary.

Google has long favored a culture of open discussion, but recent employee activism has put that commitment to the test. Workers who organized a walkout in 2018 over the company's handling of sexual assault allegations said Google punished them for their actions. Four other workers claimed they were fired for working with federal Customs and Border Protection to organize against Google and other workplace advocacy efforts.

U.S. labor law provides employees with the right to take collective action regarding working conditions. John Logan, a labor studies professor at San Francisco State University, said this would allow tech workers to come together and challenge how the tools they create are used. He said he would argue that it should be.

Tech workers are different from other types of workers, he says. In this case, it could be argued that having some say or control or the ability to protest how one's work is used is actually a kind of important issue. Masu.

Tech companies like Google have a reputation for having a more egalitarian and very cosmopolitan work culture, but when they encounter labor movements among their own employees, they actually have a kind of very international work culture. Logan added that strict action was taken.

Two Google employees who took part in the protests in California told Bloomberg that a group of employees gathered on the sixth floor of Google's Sunnyvale office, where Cloud CEO Thomas Krianns' office is located. They said they had gathered to show support for those holding the sit-in. . Employees say how Google identified protesters since only some had their badges scanned by security guards and some of those fired were outside Google's offices. It is said that it is unknown.

One employee said Google may have initially kept the move to give employees time off confidential to save public face, and that the protesters were not violating any company policy. He claimed that there was no. The people said the protesters left the building as soon as they were asked to do so and did not interfere with or disrupt others inside the company.

Beyond the protests, Google is also struggling with how to manage internal discussions about the Middle East conflict. Google employees said that after the protests, posts on Google's internal forums contained a mix of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel sentiments, and many other employees said the topic was inappropriate for the workplace. He said he felt it. The employee added that the moderators had shut down some threads on the subject because the preliminary discussions had become too heated.

Despite Google's response, employee demonstrations against Project Nimbus have gained support since the sit-in, one fired employee said.




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