Home Tech Google fires twenty-eight workers for protesting cloud deal with Israel

Google fires twenty-eight workers for protesting cloud deal with Israel

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Google fires twenty-eight workers for protesting cloud deal with Israel

Google fired twenty-eight employees on Wednesday after they participated in protests against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud contract with the Israeli government that also includes Amazon.

Workers at both companies have claimed that the deal makes available to Israel’s security apparatus advanced technology that could contribute to the death or harm of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The interception and Time have reported that Project Nimbus provides services that can be leveraged by the Israel Defense Forces.

The twenty-eight layoffs, confirmed by Google, come hours after police detained nine employees Tuesday night for staging sit-ins at Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office in Sunnyvale, California, and in a company office in New York. The nine workers were fired, in addition to nineteen other participants in the protest.

Google spokeswoman Anna Kowalczyk said in a statement that the employees were fired after an internal investigation concluded they were guilty of “physically impeding the work of other employees and preventing them from accessing our facilities.” She added that “after rejecting multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement agreed to remove them to ensure the safety of the office.” The Nimbus contract “is not directed” toward classified or military jobs, she said.

Tuesday’s action against Project Nimbus comes after the reported death toll from the IDF offensive against Hamas in Gaza rose to more than 34,000 Palestinians. The military offensive began after Hamas killed about 1,100 Israelis on October 7.

The Google sit-ins were accompanied by protests of more than 100 people (including many Google workers) outside the company’s offices in New York, Sunnyvale, and Seattle. Google’s Kowalczyk characterized employee participation as “a small number.”

Google’s workforce comprises the vast majority of employees at parent company Alphabet, which reported a headcount of more than 180,000 at the end of 2023. Several protesters at Google’s New York office told WIRED they have support within the company. beyond those who directly participated in Tuesday’s protest.

Jane Chung, a spokesperson for No Tech for Apartheid (the coalition of tech workers and Muslim- and Jewish-led activist groups MPower Change and Jewish Voice for Peace that organized the protests) says some workers who were fired were involved in much less provocative activities. . action than those who held positions.

Some, he said, simply attended an outdoor protest and took a T-shirt handed out by organizers. Others “were flying outside, staying close to protesters for safety.”

Zelda Montes, now a former YouTube software engineer who says they were arrested after occupying Google’s New York office for more than ten hours, accuses the company of violating US legal protections for workers.

“It is very clear that Google is engaging in illegal behavior to deter our labor organizing by retaliating against workers who were not arrested,” Montes says. “I’m disappointed by how evil Google can be, but not surprised: they’re more outraged by employees sitting peacefully than by how their technology is murdering people.”

Google’s Kowalczyk said the Nimbus contract is “not targeted” at “workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

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