Following an outpouring of opposition from tech leaders against US president Donald Trump’s divisive immigration ban, Google (Alphabet) employees around the world have staged a walkout.
So far, at least 2,000 of the company’s 60,000 employees have already walked out of eight offices worldwide, using the Twitter hashtag #GooglersUnite. Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai appeared this afternoon to address the crowd at the company’s office in Mountain View, California, two days after Brin joined protesters at San Francisco Airport (SFO) in defiance of Trump’s order.
“There are some values which are really near and dear to your heart, foundational, things you should never compromise on, and the thing that we have been debating for the past three days is one of them,” Pichai said. “I think we need to stand together. I’ve spoken up strongly.”
Pichai went on to mention Brin’s appearance at the protest at SFO, pausing when employees broke out in a chant of “Sergey!” (“I’ve never gotten so many kudos for doing something that was so easy before,” Brin joked.)
Brin, now worth close to $40 billion, came to the US at age 6 as a refugee from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. “It was a dire period,” he told Google’s employees. “And yet, even then, the US had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees.” Pichai is an Indian immigrant who earlier this month toured his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, and encouraged students there to pursue their dreams.
Pichai said Google spent two hours today discussing Trump’s actions on immigration. Both he and Brin urged employees to reach out to and communicate with people from across the country. “That means bringing in folks who have some different viewpoints,” Brin said. “There are many rational, thoughtful people there who—maybe they vote Republican, or Democrat, or Independent, or whatever—but are outraged by these kinds of actions. It’s important to be welcoming and reach out to them. In fact, we’ve been working on doing exactly that.”
After weeks of uncharacteristic acquiescence, Silicon Valley finally broke its silence on Trump this weekend. On Jan. 27, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote a post saying the US should celebrate being a nation of immigrants, and Pichai decried Trump’s order in an email to employees. By Saturday, a number of tech leaders had chimed in with their own outrage.
Still, there is speculation as to how much of a backbone tech CEOs will display when it comes to Trump. A number of them remain silent, and some—Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick—are even serving as advisors in his administration. The walkout is a reminder to Silicon Valley leaders that their employees are watching them closely.
Here are some of the tweets from Google employees:
Employees at Google’s Nest also staged a walkout today: