Thousands of Raterlabs employees laid off 1 year after pay raise

Feb 7, 2024, 10:39 AM | Updated: 7:32 pm

Image: A photo looking toward downtown Kirkland and Lake Washington...

A photo looking toward downtown Kirkland and Lake Washington (Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

Thousands of employees working for a Kirkland-based technology company are being laid off.

According to postings from the Washington State Department of Employment Security, RaterLabs, Inc. is permanently furloughing more than 3,600 workers. The notice was received on Tuesday.

More on Seattle-area layoffs: Microsoft, REI start 2024 with workforce reductions

According to the “Search Engine Land” blog, the thousands of job reductions are tied to losing a major contract with Google.

Raterlabs, based in Kirkland, was acquired by an Australian data company called Appen in 2017. The employees appear to mostly be remote workers. RaterLabs is an artificial intelligence (AI) training supplier whose only known client is Google, according to ComputerWeekly.

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RaterLabs’ employees are contract workers responsible for training and testing Google’s search algorithms. Last year, through a union campaign, these workers secured their first-ever pay increase, bumping their hourly wages from $10 an hour to approximately $14-14.50 an hour.

The union that was awarded the wage bump was Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America (AWU-CWA), a group that represents workers throughout Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. The workers represented include contracted and temporary staff, like RaterLabs employees.

According to ComputerWeekly, RaterLabs employees are responsible for evaluating Google’s search results by testing and rating how accurately the algorithm responds to various prompts, as well as the relevance and quality of the ads served.

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

You can read more of Lisa Brooks’ stories here. Follow Lisa on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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