AWU takes action around the Jan 2024 layoffs.

Update: Go read this excellent post by Ben.

So yeah, Google did some layoffs . Actually, more like “is doing” since there was more than one wave.

Besides the work we did to connect with our laid off colleagues and friends, we organized on-site action this week with speakers from our elected leadership and Googlers impacted by the layoffs. It’s important to note that the group of impacted workers includes Alphabet workers whose trusted colleagues were now gone from our teams. Some teams lost full quarters of important work because too many of the people critical to landing them… are now gone.

If you are thinking “Oh, well, clearly that project wasn’t that important,” you would be wrong. Obviously, I’m not going to discuss details in a forum like this so you’ll have to trust me on that, or, read some journalism about it. That last line says a lot. It reads “They might soon have to accept that Google is no longer family.” Friends, the Company is never family. They are a business operating under capitalism, and line must go up and people are not more important than that line.

And that is why we organize. So we can force a little humanity on the inevitble self-serving actions of companies. Like, maybe instead of converting the 6 month maternity leave a worker is on to 6 weeks of short term disability, we just give them the leave we promised them and they started before they got laid off. Just a thought.

Another thing we did was a letter-writing campaign. Everyone write a letter to your SVP (CEO Sundar Pichai’s direct reports) about the layoffs, express your concerns and worries about them, talk about how they have directly affected your team, and ask for a meeting with a small group of workers - not a Town Hall, a meeting - by the end of January. Cool.

I participated and like a lot of folks, either Bcc:’ed or Cc:’ed teams we work with. Heh, thi sis where the beehive got bumped over. Per the post-facto wisdom of another organizer, some prepwork of contacting members of those teams, collecting their input ahead of time with a notice that I was going to send this thing and cc: the team would have built more solidarity ahead of time and created that group of workers local to the team that would meet with the SVP. Should they take the meeting. Well, heh, note taken for the next action!

I didn’t hear back from Prabhakar Raghavan yet, but apparently I did cause quite a discussion among managers and Directors regarding my letter. Heh. This did culminate in a late-afternoon meeting with one of the Directors I work with the most. And honestly, I have nothing but praise for that meeting. We had a very reasonable discussion about the culture of the company, talked over some of the concerns workers had and some thoughts we had around how things could have gone different. Each party has action items that are aimed at meeting with folks at the top of our organization, but not with Prabhakar. Well. Not yet, anyway.

Letter writing can work. I’m not the only one who has some meetings about this topic coming uo with leads.

Onward.

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