". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


28 Google Employees Fired for Disruptive, All-Day, Anti-Israel Protest

April 19, 2024

Some people are so intoxicated with their own self-importance and totalitarian transcendence of their own niche worldview that the only treatment is a cold, clear draft of reality. This trap snares not only Washington politicians (and their relatives) but often ordinary people working ordinary jobs — just ask the J6 defendants. Unfortunately, the infrequent consequences for outrageous misbehavior — especially for those on the political Left — have caused some to mistakenly conclude that their self-importance is accurate, and that there will be no consequences. And then, the hammer falls.

What Happened

On Tuesday, Google employees (“Googlers”) coordinated a multi-site, anti-Israel protest, occupying company offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., New York, and Seattle. The group called themselves “No Tech for Apartheid” and scheduled a “Day of Action” for Tuesday. The protestors demanded that Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian cancel Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract in which Google and Amazon provided Cloud services and AI capabilities to the Israeli government and military.

To back up their demands, the protestors warned, “we are sitting in the office of Thomas Kurian, the CEO of Google Cloud, until our demands are met.” And there they sat — for 10 hours.

I wonder what the protestors thought would happen. Would Kurian be shamed into a huge business decision by employees chanting, “How many kids did you kill today?” If, as they baselessly claimed, Google executives permitted the “harassment, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and censorship of Palestinians, Arab, Muslim Googlers,” why would this action through admittedly inappropriate channels result in anything different? Would a handful of protestors really convince Google to cancel a $1.2 billion government contract with one of America’s closest allies?

According to Google spokeswoman Bailey Tomson, “These employees were put on administrative leave, and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.” And then, Google fired them.

While that last sentence sinks in, here are more specifics. Four Googlers were arrested at the New York protest around 9:45 p.m., and five more were arrested in California. Those arrested were charged with criminal trespassing after acknowledging to police that they refused to leave voluntarily. After an internal investigation, Google terminated 28 employees who participated in the protest, based on security footage.

That Google crushed this staff uprising so unceremoniously is surprising for several reasons. First, it seems like leftist protestors rarely face appropriate consequences for their actions. Second, Google has caved to its staff before. In 2018, it did not renew a Pentagon contract after internal criticism. Third, Google (and/or its parent company Alphabet) would make any list of the most left-leaning, politically activist corporations in America. Google’s “news blacklistsuppresses content from conservative sites. Google recently released — and then deactivated — Gemini, an AI photo generator programmed with such a bias for depicting “people of color” that it even generated black Nazis. Google has interfered in U.S. elections 41 times since 2008, according to a Media Research Center report. Despite these factors, the activist fringe at Google still went a bridge too far.

What This Means for the Activists

For the activists who participated in this protest, their time at Google ended abruptly when the company fired them the next day.

The protestors gave the company abundant justification to fire them. Companies pay employees to fulfill certain duties, which are usually part of their job description. Occupying the CEO’s office and demanding the right to dictate company decisions is not the job these Googlers were hired to do. Many of the employees likely belonged to teams whose other members were hampered in their own work by their protest. Certainly most of them would have worked under supervisors who assigned daily or weekly tasks, which they expected these employees to complete. These employees were indisputably not fulfilling the tasks they were paid to perform while participating in this office occupation.

In a way, the fired protestors got what they wanted. “We did not come to Google to work on technology that kills,” complained one protestor. “We will not stand by as our work aids and abets the apartheid,” insisted another. Another said she couldn’t “in good conscience not do anything” while Google supplied Cloud technology to Israel. In a statement, No Tech for Apartheid declared it incomprehensible that Google executives “are able to sleep at night” because of “Israel’s genocide.” In other words, the protestors wanted nothing more to do with Google’s business, and Google kindly obliged them.

The lesson for these activists is that they weren’t nearly as important to Google as they thought they were. No Tech for Apartheid reacted to the firing by complaining, “This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract … more than its own workers — the ones who create real value for executives and shareholders.”

Where to begin with this absurd contention? First, as explained above, these protestors were not working and therefore not creating value. Second, workers who cancel a $1.2 billion contract cause a corresponding loss in value to the shareholders. Third, Google employs roughly 140,000 people, 99.98% of whom were not fired because they were doing their jobs instead of cosplaying as CEO. Fourth, Google is a gigantic, profitable company that can easily replace 28 workers who didn’t want to be there.

These 28 activists effectively delivered an ultimatum to Google: choose us or $1.2 billion. It turns out the company did not value their continued contributions to the company at a collective $1.2 billion, which would have come out to nearly $43 million each.

As hard as it may be for them to believe, there was nothing special about these 28 individuals to justify Google paying their opinion any more heed. Their only claim to a platform from which to influence Google’s business practices was that they were Googlers. But they didn’t build the company. Some of them may have even been good at their jobs, but now Google will carry on without them. As they discovered, their employment with Google was a privilege, not a right. With no further claim on Google’s attention, perhaps they learned another chant during their exit interview with HR: from the office to the door, you don’t work here anymore.

What This Means for Google

Google’s rationale for terminating these disruptive employees is a shrewd one, which other companies could take as a model. Essentially, they terminated them for violating company harassment policies. Google Vice President of Global Security Chris Rackow wrote in a company memo that the protestors “took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened.” He added that their behavior “clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to — including our Code of Conduct and Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, Standards of Conduct, and Workplace Concerns.”

This decision resulted in a win-win for Google. Pro-Palestine agitators among their employees had afflicted Google for some time, authoring an anonymous Guardian article in 2021, circulating an anonymous open letter just after Hamas’s attack on October 18, and staging a die-in at their San Francisco office in December.

Not only did Google take the opportunity to rid themselves of a few of these troublemakers — and send a message to the rest — but they managed to gain some good press and public sympathy at the same time. On Monday, pro-Hamas protestors blockaded the Golden Gate Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and the entrance to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, snarling traffic for hours and winning themselves only annoyance among American commuters and travelers. Google firing employees who participated in similar disruptive behavior on Tuesday only executed what every victim of these shenanigans wished they had the power to do for themselves.

It isn’t likely that Google has suddenly seen the light and decided to end its politically biased activism. But Google prefers for its left-wing activism to be hidden as deeply as possible. (Plus, keeping a $1.2 billion contract doesn’t hurt either.) Google’s activism is more effective if it can maintain its near-monopoly market position on internet searches, web advertising traffic, cloud computing, and other businesses. It cannot do that by alienating one-half of the political spectrum.

No, Google remains committed to subtle political activism for left-wing causes. Only now there are a couple dozen less troublemakers to interfere with that mission.

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.