The Google employees who walked out were taking a public, collective stand in the broader conversation about sexual harassment. (Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg)

The global walkout by Google workers, a response to Alphabet Inc.’s reported protection of executives accused of sexual misconduct, may be a harbinger of something new in employer-employee relations: empowered workers’ moral-political protest directed as much against the general culture as against management.

Although the walkout is connected in a broad sense to workplace conditions, this isn’t the trade union strike of old. Google’s workers are mainly professionals: engineers, not laborers. They have well-paid, high-prestige jobs at a company known for recruiting top employees. Not all of the thousands of workers who walked out were personal victims of workplace sexual harassment.

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