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Coalition Condemns Google’s Illegal Firing of Workers Protesting Israel Contract

In a $1.2 billion contract, Google and Amazon provide cloud infrastructure and data services to the Israeli government.

Demonstrators, including Google workers, gather in front of Google's San Francisco offices and shut down traffic around One Market Plaza, demanding an end to Google's work with the Israeli government and to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza, in San Francisco, California, on December 14, 2023.

The peace coalition No Tech for Apartheid accused Google of a “flagrant act of retaliation” late Wednesday night as the Silicon Valley giant announced it had fired 28 workers over protests against its cloud services contract with the Israeli government.

The firings came after Google organizers held two 10-hour sit-ins at the company’s offices in Sunnyvale, California and New York City, demanding the termination of Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract under which Google and Amazon provide cloud infrastructure and data services for Israel — without any oversight regarding whether the Israel Defense Forces uses the services in its occupation of Palestinian territories and bombardment of Gaza.

Workers have denounced Project Nimbus since it was announced in 2021, but Israel’s killing of at least 33,970 Palestinians in Gaza since October and its intentional starvation of civilians led employees to escalate their protests.

No Tech for Apartheid said in a statement that Google officials called the police to both offices to arrest nine protesters — dubbed the Nimbus Nine — on Tuesday morning, before utilizing “a dragnet of in-office surveillance” to fire nearly two dozen other employees on Wednesday.

“They punished all of the workers they could associate with this action in wholesale firings,” said the coalition, which includes Jewish Voice for Peace and MPower Change, a Muslim-led anti-war group.

Google accused the workers of “bullying,” “harassment,” defacing property, and physically impeding other employees — allegations No Tech for Apartheid rejected as it noted organizers “have yet to hear from a single executive about” their concerns over Google’s collaboration with Israel.

“This excuse to avoid confronting us and our concerns directly, and attempt to justify its illegal, retaliatory firings, is a lie,” said the workers. “Even the workers who were participating in a peaceful sit-in and refusing to leave did not damage property or threaten other workers. Instead they received an overwhelmingly positive response and shows of support.”

The organizers staged the sit-ins on the heels of reporting in Time magazine about new negotiations between Google and the Israeli government regarding further potential tech contracts.

Kate J. Sim, a child safety policy adviser at Google who said she was among those fired this week, said the terminations show “how terrified [executives] are of worker power.”

Google employees have a history of harnessing worker power to change policies at the company. In 2018, Google terminated a deal with the U.S. Defense Department to develop drone and artificial intelligence (AI) technology through a contract called Project Maven. The decision followed the resignations of several employees and the condemnation of thousands of workers.

Calling Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian “genocide profiteers,” No Tech for Apartheid said Wednesday that they will not stop demonstrating against Project Nimbus until they get a similar result.

“The truth is clear: Google is terrified of us,” said the group. “They are terrified of workers coming together and calling for accountability and transparency from our bosses… The corporation is trying to downplay and discredit our power.

“These mass, illegal firings will not stop us,” No Tech for Apartheid added. “On the contrary, they only serve as further fuel for the growth of this movement. Make no mistake, we will continue organizing until the company drops Project Nimbus and stops powering this genocide.”

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