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Googlers will rally to protest ‘brute force intimidation’ against organizers

Tensions have been high at the company

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google employees are planning a rally on November 22nd to support colleagues who were recently placed on leave in the latest sign of rising tensions at the tech giant.

Bloomberg News first reported on the two employees who were placed on leave after they allegedly accessed information beyond the scope of their jobs. Another employee was also reportedly fired over media leaks. The two employees placed on leave have been involved in internal activism at the company, and workers are accusing the company of retaliating against them for that work. Google has maintained that the two employees violated long-standing policies on accessing company information.

In a statement announcing tomorrow’s protest, the Google organizers said placing the employees on leave amounted to “a brute force intimidation attempt to silence workers.”

“We are demanding that Google bring these workers back to work immediately,” the statement says. The two employees, Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, as well as other Google organizers, will speak at the protest, which will be held tomorrow morning outside Google’s San Francisco offices.

The rally is the latest turn in the accelerating disputes between organizers and management. Employee activists have protested several company projects and policies, successfully pressing Google to scuttle work like plans for a censored Chinese search engine. The activism culminated in a mass walkout last year. But management at the company has recently made internal policy changes, including scaling back its employee all-hands meetings, that suggest a crackdown on the activity.

“Without workers, users, creators, and our communities, Google would not be making over $20 billion in profits a year,” the organizers said in a statement announcing the rally. “The attack on Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland is an attack on all people who care about transparency and accountability for tech.”