The Google Walkout

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1700 ... November 5, 2018
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The Google Walkout:
An International Working-Class Movement

Dan La Botz

Thousands of Google employees throughout the United States and around the world walked off their jobs on November 1, "to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone." Beginning in Singapore and working its way around the globe the movement closed Google offices from Mountain View, California, in Boulder and New York, as well as in London, Dublin, Zurich and Berlin.

Signs on placards or on the walls read "Don’t Be Evil," or "Times Up Tech." One woman wrote, "My outrage won’t fit on this sign." Nearly everywhere workers held short rallies where women read the movement’s demands. Looking at the many photos and videos of the... walkouts and rallies, as well as reading the Google workers’ comments, it is clear that this was a mass working class movement.

The walkout, which lasted several hours in many places, represents one of the largest international worker job actions in modern labour history. Seldom in recent decades have workers either unionized or non-union workers such as these engaged in such a global, crossborder action. It is also the largest action by tech workers in the United States since this industry was born a few decades ago. And it is one of the most significant expansions of the #MeToo movement into workplace. The Google walkout’s international character, the fact that these are highly skilled technical workers, and that this was a fight for women make this an event of enormous significance for the labour movement.

Google workers have carried out a strike and out of it, created union -- if not yet a union. Will the Google workers recognize this as a labour movement? And will organized labour in the United States be able to embrace Google workers who do so without smothering or strangling them in the conservative labour bureaucracy? Whatever happens, we have had a demonstration of a grassroots workers movement of tremendous potential.

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