Oracle employees downed tools on Thursday in protest of the company’s founder appearing to endorse of the Trump campaign ahead of this year’s US presidential election.
Larry Ellison, the software giant’s founder and executive chairman, held a fundraiser for the re-election campaign earlier this week at his home in California.
Roughly 300 staff took part in the unsanctioned walkout. Others, fearing repercussions, took official paid leave for the afternoon or donated to charities whose work runs against the Republican agenda.
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Walkouts at the world’s largest tech firms are not unprecedented, though this week’s incident marks the first of its kind at Oracle.
In recent years, staff at both Google and Amazon have gone on strike over sexual misconduct and climate policies respectively.
Oracle stands to gain much from a close relationship with the US President. Earlier this week, legal representatives of the Trump administration came to Oracle’s defence in its legal dispute with Google over API copyrights, with the case set to be resolved in the Supreme Court in March.
Microsoft and IBM are among a group of notable players to oppose Oracle’s campaign to extend copyright protection to software interfaces. But the Trump administration has expressed its support for Oracle’s proposals.
Further, with news the CIA will recruit further vendors to participate in its cloud infrastructure overhaul, it would benefit Oracle to ensure it remains in favour with Trump.
Word of Ellison’s fundraiser travelled through the organisation, prompting a handful of Oracle’s 136,000 employees to sign a petition in protest. Signatories felt the founder’s public endorsement of Trump violated Oracle’s diversity, inclusion and ethics policies.
The website used by employees to organise the walkout was reportedly flagged by Oracle’s network. Visitors to the site were met with a message that said: “Access to this site may not be permitted by the Oracle Acceptable Use Policy.”
“However, if the user is authorised and has a legitimate business reason to access the requested site, then click below to access. Your access will be logged,” the pop-up added.
It is not yet clear whether Oracle will discipline those who participated in the walkout.
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