May 25, 2024

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Former Google employees say their firing for protesting the Israeli contract was illegal

Former Google employees say their firing for protesting the Israeli contract was illegal

Written by Danielle Wiesner

(Reuters) – A group of workers at Alphabet Inc's Google has filed a complaint with the U.S. Labor Council alleging that the technology company illegally fired about 50 employees over their protest over a cloud contract with the Israeli government.

The one-page complaint, filed late Monday with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleges that by firing the workers, Google interfered with their rights under US labor law to advocate for better working conditions.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google said this month that it fired 28 employees who disrupted work at unspecified office locations while protesting Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract jointly awarded to Google and Amazon to provide cloud services to the Israeli government. The company said last week that about 20 other workers had been fired for protesting the contract while in the office.

The workers claim that the project supports Israel's development of military tools. Google said the Nimbus contract “is not directed to highly sensitive, classified or military workloads related to weapons or intelligence services.”

Zelda Montes, a former Google employee who was arrested during a protest over Project Nimbus, said Google fired workers to suppress organizing and send a message to its workforce that dissent would not be tolerated.

“Google is trying to instill fear in employees,” Montes said in a statement provided by No Tech For Apartheid, an organizing group affiliated with some of the fired workers.

In the NLRB complaint, the workers seek to be reinstated with back wages and a statement from Google that it will not violate workers' rights to organize.

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The NLRB's General Counsel, who acts as a prosecutor, reviews complaints and attempts to settle claims he deems they have merit. If that fails, the general counsel can pursue cases before administrative judges and a five-member board appointed by the US president.

(Reporting by Danielle Wiesner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and David Gregorio)