The real aim of big tech’s layoffs: bringing workers to heel

The tech sector seems to be betting that these massive, algorithmically orchestrated firings will not only cut labor costs, but also once again remind increasingly empowered tech workers of their insecurity, and the power the companies still hold. It’s a bet that has historically paid off and has helped transform the tech giants into some of the most profitable companies in history.

But there’s also a chance that this time, things could be different.

“It’s very galvanizing,” Beatty said. The Alphabet Workers Union held a meeting shortly after the layoffs were announced. “More than 1,000 people joined,” she said, “and another 800 tried to sign up for it after it started. It was big enough that we broke Zoom, and couldn’t do breakout rooms.”