Google workers walk out to protest Muslim ban

Maybe Trump will create an opening for progressives to find common ground with tech workers

The fury over Trump’s Muslim ban moved to the tech industry today as thousands of Google workers in San Francisco, Seattle and Mountainview walked out of work in protest.

Tech workers have not been the most active group politically, and voter registration data that I’ve looked at shows that many of the recent newcomers to the city who have moved into neighborhoods like the Mission aren’t registering to vote.

48hillsgooglemarch

But Trump’s recent order has activated a lot of people: There were a lot of folks at SFO this weekend who are not regular rally-goers, and the tech industry has a lot of immigrant workers.

The people in the streets today were a different demographic than some immigrant groups in the city: Many of the immigrants who work at Google get good salaries and have legal documentation. But even they are worried – and the US citizens who work with them are worried, too.

48hillsgooglemarch2

Trump has said that he won’t (immediately) be deporting or blocking people who have Green Cards. But a lot of tech workers are here on other types of visas – and it’s unclear what the next step out of the White House will be.

“I’m upset about it,” a worker named David, who like most at the protest didn’t want to be identified by his full name. “We are all originally immigrants, and this ban is unconstitutional.”

And in a nod to how quickly protests can be organized these days, today’s walkout (which had the full support of Google management) happened almost spontaneously. An internal email went around at about 10:30 this morning, the protesters told me, and by 3pm, the Embarcadero across from Google’s SF office was packed.

The cops stop traffic on the Embarcadero
The cops stop traffic on the Embarcadero

There was a huge rally at the Googleplex in Mountainview, and another in Seattle.

The protest had no clear leaders; chants were somewhat spontaneous. At one point, everyone started to march toward the Ferry Building, and the police blocked off the road to let the March cross the road.

After a short loop, they all went back to work.

48hillsgooglemarch4

Progressives in San Francisco have not always made political connections with tech workers, for a lot of complex reasons (including, of course, displacement and in a few cases, some very bad attitudes).

But we are in a different world now, and if we can all get together fighting Trump on the Muslim ban, maybe there’s more common ground. Protests lead to political education and coalitions; there’s always hope, and in the Age of Trump we need all we can get.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s great. I’m a lesbian of color in the tech industry (our club would likely have about four members, ha), and was also part of the first boom of the late 90s. I grew up in a working class family in a suburb of L.A., so I’m a sort of socioeconomic code switcher, if you will. Although local “techies” haven’t involved themselves politically at the ballot box, and although (very unfortunately) only the assholes make news, almost everyone I’ve ever known in this industry is open-minded and progressive. This demographic is yet another “sleeping giant” that stands to awaken and help make a substantial contribution to progressive causes.

  2. If that even happens…People shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Also instead of dancing and cheering, you should be honoring the possible deaths, instead of placing your political views first.

  3. We can be in this together fighting Trump or die separately. Thank you for going for the common ground route. This is no time to make a stand on the political purity hill.

  4. How is it a walkout of work when Sergey Brin is leading them? Also no more protests against google buses or tech taking over SF & banishing the poor + artists to the outer reaches of SFBA?

  5. Thank you Tim for reaching out to tech workers! In times like these we all need to put aside our minor differences and unite against the truly evil policies of the current administration. I have disagreed with you many times in the past, but now is the time to unite.

    If idiots like Artivist and Ragazzu continue to focus on minor differences that divide us, we are all screwed.

  6. Great, now let’s see them get vigilant over their employer’s harvesting and selling of our private data. What’s Google’s current policy vis-à-vis the NSA?

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