At Google, a 'Flagrant Act of Retaliation' Against Workers

On Tuesday, 9 workers were detained over protests over Israeli contract; on Wednesday, 28 were fired
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2024 6:27 AM CDT
Google Fires 28 Workers Who Protested Israel Contract
A sign is shown on a Google building at the company's campus in Mountain View, California, on Sept. 24, 2019.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

On Tuesday, nine workers were arrested for trespassing at Google offices on both coasts while protesting their employer's contract with the Israeli government. A day later, the company fired dozens more employees, reports the New York Times. More on what's happening:

  • The contract: The workers who converged upon Google's offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, on Tuesday were raising their voices against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion program involving Google and Amazon supplying Israeli government agencies with cloud computing capabilities, including artificial intelligence. Some fear the Israeli military, currently carrying out the war in Gaza, will benefit from the deal. As the Times notes, "tensions had been simmering" over the contract since it was signed in 2021, but those tensions escalated after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

  • Arrests: The Washington Post reports that protesters entered the two offices around 2pm ET on Tuesday, with other demonstrators rallying outside, as well as outside Google's Seattle office. Nine people were arrested in New York and California, per a rep for the protesters.
  • Firings: On Wednesday, 28 employees were fired—even some who didn't directly participate in any of the sit-ins, per a statement from No Tech for Apartheid, the protest organizer. The statement called Google's actions a "flagrant act of retaliation."
  • Google's reaction: "Physically impeding other employees' work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior," a company spokesperson says in a statement, per the Times. The head of Google's global security also sent out a memo to employees that warned, "If you're one of the few who are tempted to think we're going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again," per the Verge. The company says it will continue to investigate this week's demonstrations.
  • Protesters' reaction: In its statement, No Tech for Apartheid slammed the arrest of the "Nimbus Nine" and the mass firings, reports Forbes. "The truth is clear: Google is terrified of us," the statement notes, adding that the protests were peaceful. "They are terrified of workers coming together and calling for accountability and transparency from our bosses." It then added: "Make no mistake, we will continue organizing until the company drops Project Nimbus and stops powering this genocide."
(More Google stories.)

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