Google, the tech giant, recently fired approximately 12,000 employees in January, which resulted in protests from workers in both the US coasts. The workers staged the protests to draw attention to labour conditions for subcontracted workers and to support their laid-off co-workers.
One protest took place at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, and another took place near Google’s corporate offices in New York City. About 50 employees participated in the New York protest, which was held outside a Google store on Ninth Avenue just after parent company Alphabet Inc reported its fourth-quarter results, which included $13.6 billion in profit.
The protests were organised by the Alphabet Workers Union, a labour group whose members include both Google employees and subcontractors. Although the AWU doesn’t have collective bargaining rights, software engineer Alberta Devor, a member of the AWU and a Google employee for more than three years, stated that the protests showed that some issues affect all workers regardless of their job title or status.
At the California rally, subcontractors spoke out against what they perceived as substandard conditions, including poverty wages and lack of benefits. These workers, who perform tasks such as reviewing content to train the company’s AI algorithms and screening YouTube clips and ads for offensive material, claim that their pay and benefits fall far below Google’s own minimum standards and benefits for direct contract workers.