Google Fires Over 50 Employees for Protesting Cloud Computing Deal with Israel

Google fired over 50 employees for protesting its $1.2B cloud contract with Israel, sparking debate over employee activism and corporate ethics.

Hadeel Hashem
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Google Fires Over 50 Employees for Protesting Cloud Computing Deal with Israel

Google Fires Over 50 Employees for Protesting Cloud Computing Deal with Israel. Photo credit: Nathan Frandino/Reuters

Google has fired more than 50 employees for participating in protests against the company's $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. The latest round of terminations saw at least 20 more workers fired, according to the activist group No Tech for Apartheid, which has been leading the demonstrations.

The protests began last week and have escalated amid Israel's ongoing military campaign in Gaza. Sit-in demonstrations were held at Google offices in New York and California, leading to arrests and the initial firing of 28 employees. Google has since confirmed additional terminations, stating that its investigation found the employees were "personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside company buildings.

However, No Tech for Apartheid disputes Google's claims, alleging that the company is attempting to "quash dissent, silence its workers, and reassert its power over them" by firing employees, including some who were not directly participating in the protests.

Why this matters: The protests and firings at Google reflect a broader wave of employee activism and public scrutiny over U.S. tech companies' contracts with government agencies, particularly in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The situation highlights the challenges faced by corporations in balancing business interests with the ethical concerns and political views of their workforce.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the unrest in a company-wide memo, emphasizing that Google is a workplace with clear policies and that employees should not use it as a "personal platform" or "debate politics." Despite this, No Tech for Apartheid has vowed to continue its workplace activism, demanding that Google drop the Project Nimbus contract and reinstate the terminated workers. The company maintains that the cloud computing services are not being used for weapons or intelligence gathering.

Key Takeaways

  • Google fired 50+ employees for protesting $1.2B Israel cloud contract since 2021.
  • Protests escalated amid Israel's Gaza campaign, leading to arrests and more firings.
  • Google claims fired employees were "personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity."
  • Activist group disputes Google's claims, alleging attempt to "quash dissent" and "silence workers."
  • Situation highlights challenges for corporations balancing business and employee ethical concerns.