Google employees protest against job cuts and low wages

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Demonstrations to draw attention to the working conditions of contract workers and to support laid-off employees

Author of the article:

Bloomberg News

Lucy Papachristou and Davey Alba

Published on 02/03/2023 • 2 minutes of reading time

Join the conversation with protesters at an Alphabet Workers Union rally in New York on Thursday, February 2, 2023. Photo by Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

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Google employees staged protests on both coasts of the United States this week to draw attention to the working conditions of contract workers and to support thousands of recently laid off employees.

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Rallies, one held Wednesday at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and another Thursday near Google headquarters in New York, took place after the company announced the largest shutdown in its history – 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its global workforce. Other big tech companies, including Microsoft Corp., Salesforce Inc. and Inc., also recently announced layoffs.

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The protest in New York, which included around 50 employees outside a Google store on Ninth Avenue, began just minutes after parent company Alphabet Inc. announced fourth quarter results, including a $13.6 billion profit. US dollars.

“Today Google refuted its own reasoning for laying off 12,000 of our employees,” said software engineer Alberta Devor. “It’s clear that the small savings the company is making by laying off workers are nothing compared to the billions it spent on stock buybacks or the billions in profits last quarter.”

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Both protests were organized by the Alphabet Workers Union – a “minority union” that has no collective bargaining rights and whose members are both contractors and Google employees.

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“Today shows that some of the issues we’re talking about affect all workers, regardless of job title or status,” said Devor, who has worked at Google for more than three years and is a member of the AWU. , in an interview. .

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At Wednesday’s rally in California, dozens of contractors spoke out against what they described as substandard conditions, including what they described as “poverty wages and no benefits.” His responsibilities include reviewing content to train the company’s AI-powered algorithms, as well as filtering YouTube clips and scanning ads for offensive or sensitive content. But the workers say their pay and benefits are far below Google’s minimum standards and benefits for its direct contract workers.

“We want this work to at least have a chance of surviving,” Zai Snell, one of the protests’ contractors in California, said in a phone interview.

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