Google Fires 28 Employees Amid Protests Over Israeli Contract

Google Fires Protestors

Google terminated 28 of its employees on Wednesday following protests at its New York and Sunnyvale, California, offices. The protests were against Google’s cloud computing deal with the Israeli government, a contract that has stirred considerable controversy within the company.

Protests Lead to Arrests

Just a day before the dismissals, police arrested nine Google employees on charges of trespassing during the sit-ins at the same locations. A Google spokeswoman described the protestors’ actions as an “unacceptable violation of our policies,” noting that they had blocked access to company facilities and disrupted work.

Longstanding Tensions Over Project Nimbus

The conflict roots back to a contentious $1.2 billion agreement, known as Project Nimbus, that Google and Amazon secured in 2021 to provide the Israeli government with cloud services. This deal includes technology such as artificial intelligence. Despite the company’s assurances that Nimbus does not support military or intelligence operations, concerns have persisted among some employees about the ethical implications, fearing indirect involvement in military activities.

Response and Retaliation Claims

The group “No Tech For Apartheid,” which organized the protests, labeled the firings as a severe act of retaliation. They stated, “Google workers have the right to peacefully protest about the terms and conditions of our labor.” They also pointed out that some of those dismissed had not actively participated in the sit-ins.

Historical Context of Employee Activism

Google’s history with employee activism dates back to at least 2018 when employees successfully urged the company to withdraw from Project Maven, a Defense Department initiative that would have used Google’s technology to analyze drone footage. This earlier success has fueled ongoing activism within the company, with protestors vowing to continue their efforts against Project Nimbus.

Google’s Ongoing Internal Struggles

Amid these protests, Google is considering revisions to its corporate forums to curb internal disputes over the conflict, showing how deeply these issues are affecting the company’s internal culture. Meanwhile, Google plans to continue its investigation into the Tuesday protests, emphasizing its commitment to enforcing company policies while navigating the complex terrain of employee rights and corporate contracts.

The developments mark a significant moment in the ongoing saga of tech industry ethics and employee activism, highlighting the challenges companies face when balancing business contracts with internal consensus on global political issues.

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