Labor group slams Google workplace changes for treatment of contractors

Labor group slams Google workplace changes for treatment of contractors
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A coalition of workers at major technology companies criticized Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s announcement about new workplace rules, saying they exclude contract workers and don't provide a seat at the board.

Tech Workers Coalition, a group that includes staffers in the tech industry, as well as labor and community organizers, said temporary, vendor and contract workers, known as TVCs, have been marginalized by Google's executive leadership.

“Sundar ignored the demand for a worker to be represented on the board," said a coalition spokesperson in a statement, adding that TVCs "continue to have no adequate protections from sexual harassment."

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The changes announced by Pichai came after 20,000 workers last week walked out at Google offices around the world in protest of the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations against high-level executives.

The coalition spokesperson said TVCs did not receive an email notification about Pichai’s announcement, even though other Google employees did, and they weren't invited to Google’s company-wide town hall meeting about changes.

TVCs make up more than half of Google's workforce and are disproportionately women and people of color, according to the Tech Workers Coalition, which supports technology industry labor efforts and comprises employees of technology firms nationwide.

“This deliberate sleight demonstrates the caste-like system deployed by Google, which fails to protect its workers and our colleagues," the coalition spokesperson said. "For a company that likes to innovate, it’s striking to see such a lack of vision for treating all of their workforce with basic dignity.”

Google declined to comment and instead pointed to a section of the new rules that address TVCs at the company: “T-V-Cs are an important part of our extended community. We investigate all matters in which a complaint is made by a T-V-C against an employee, and require that suppliers do the same for complaints against T-V-Cs and report back to us on any complaints."

Pichai’s announcement included provisions that were otherwise lauded, including dropping Google’s requirement that employees submit sexual harassment claims to an arbitration process, a requirement that had prevented victims from taking the issue to court.

Contract workers in Silicon Valley often face precarious job situations, with fewer benefits and less bargaining power.

Some tech firms have started making changes to bring contract workers in line with full-time employees. Survey Monkey this year moved to extend many of its employee benefits to its contract staff.