The tech giant Google recently let go 12,000 workers, prompting protests from employees on both US coasts. The employees organised the protests to make people aware of the working conditions for subcontracted workers and to show support for their sacked co-workers.
There were two protests: one outside Google’s corporate headquarters in New York City and one at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. The New York protest, which was conducted outside a Google store on Ninth Avenue shortly after parent company Alphabet Inc. released its fourth-quarter results and revealed a profit of $13.6 billion, drew around 50 employees.
The Alphabet Workers Union, a labour group that includes both Google employees and subcontractors, organised the protests. Although the AWU lacks the ability to engage in collective bargaining, software engineer Alberta Devor, an AWU member who has worked at Google for more than three years, claimed that the protests demonstrated how some issues affect all workers, regardless of their position or status.
Subcontractors protested what they saw as unfair working conditions at the California rally, including poverty wages and a lack of benefits. These workers, who carry out duties including evaluating content to train the company’s AI algorithms and screening YouTube clips and advertisements for offensive material, claim that their pay and benefits are significantly below Google’s own minimal standards and benefits for direct contract workers.