Google contractors demand equal benefits in letter to CEO

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Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 


Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google’s contract workers on Wednesday urged CEO Sundar Pichai for higher wages and equal benefits to the search giant’s full time employees.

The demands were listed in an open letter to Pichai written by the company’s TVCs, Google-speak for temps, vendors and contractors. In addition to better wages and benefits, the group also demanded access to information the company gives to its full time workers, but not temps.

For example, the letter notes, when a shooter attacked YouTube’s campus in April, full time workers received realtime updates, while TVCs were left in the dark.

“We do essential work, from marketing, to running engineering teams, to feeding you and the rest of the Google staff — all without fair benefits or recognition. Google cannot function without us,” the letter says.

Google didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

The letter from contractors follows a massive walkout by Google workers last month, in which 20,000 full time workers and contractors protested the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims against key executives.

“Google’s mission is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible,'” the letter says. “But the company fails to meet this standard within its own workplace.”

The full letter is below:

Dear Sundar,

As you know, 20,000 full-time and temporary, vendor, and contract workers (TVCs), recently walked out to protest “discrimination, racism, sexual harassment and a workplace culture that only works for some.” As TVCs who took equal part in the walkout, your silence has been deafening.

Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” But the company fails to meet this standard within its own workplace. Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives. When the tragic shooting occurred at YouTube in April of this year, the company sent real-time security updates tofull-time employees only, leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire. TVCs were then excluded from a town hall discussion the following day. And when 20,000 full-time and TVC Google employees walked out to demand equal treatment for all workers, TVCs were again excluded from the company-wide discussion held a week later.

The exclusion of TVCs from important communications and fair treatment is part of a system of institutional racism, sexism, and discrimination. TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections, and respect. We wear different badges from full-time employees, which reinforces this arbitrary and discriminatory separation. Even when we’re doing the same work as full-time employees, these jobs routinely fail to provide living wages and often offer minimal benefits. This affects not only us, but also our families and communities.

Google has been taking in record profits every quarter, with $9.2 billion in the last quarter alone. This money comes from the hard work of every single one of us, TVC and full-time alike. Google has been increasingly hiring TVCs rather than full-time employees for all types of roles, resulting in a majority TVC workforce. We do essential work, from marketing, to running engineering teams, to feeding you and the rest of the Google staff — all without fair benefits or recognition. Google cannot function without us.

The excessive and unclear rules surrounding TVCs, in addition to the constant fear of our contracts not being renewed, makes it difficult for us to speak out. However, it is clear that we will continue to be mistreated and ignored if we stay silent. Google has the power — and the money — to ensure that we are treated equitably, with respect and dignity.

As we stated during the walkout, we need transparency, accountability, and structural change to ensure equity for all Google workers. We reiterate the demands of the walkout, and make it clear that meeting these demands for all of us requires:

  1. An end to pay and opportunity inequity for TVCs. We demand better pay and access to benefits that meet the full-time employee standard, including high-quality healthcare, paid vacations, paid sick days, holiday pay, family leave, and bonuses. This must also include a consistent and transparent conversion process to full-time employment, as well as adoption of a single badge color for all workers.

  1. Access to company-wide information on the same terms as full-time employees. We want access to town hall discussions; all communications about safety, discrimination, and sexual misconduct; and a reinstatement of our access to internal forums like Google Groups. This must also include career growth, classes, and counseling opportunities like those offered to full-time workers.

Signed,

TVCs at Google

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