Over 200 workers showed up at Google’s San Francisco offices on the 22nd of November to protest the suspension of two activists who worked for the company. By the 25th of November, at least one of the suspended workers were fired along with three other Google staffers. The company claims that the termination occurred because of a breach of the company’s internal security protocol. Recent events and other dismissals raise questions as to the veracity of the company’s statement.
Retaliation for Speaking Out?
Several workers were outraged at the firing, citing it as retaliation against one of the employees raising questions about the company’s cooperation with US Customs and Border Control. Former Google employees have also stated that the company retaliated against them, showing the company’s precedence in dealing with matters like this. The protest, as well as the firings, suggest labor unrest at the search giant’s headquarters.
Employees have become quite vocal about several projects that Google is involved in. The company is slated to provide AI tools to aid in the US Department of Defense drone strike program. It has also developed and implemented a censored search engine specifically for China. Finally, the provision of cloud computing and storage services to fossil fuel companies has caused several employees to push back against management. The company’s handling of sexual harassment cases was the final straw, as over 20,000 employees staged a walkout to raise awareness about the issue.
No Say in the Matter
While Google employees are crucial to the company’s continued success, it is essential to remember that the company’s decisions reflect what the shareholders say, and don’t rely on input from the workers. The company is within its right to fire workers who go against company policy in their activism. However, if the firings are specific victimization for speaking out, then Google may be demonstrating a bit of authoritarianism – a bad look for a company that had a motto of ‘Don’t Be Evil” less than a decade ago.