Google employees demand better treatment for contract workers amid coronavirus crisis

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A group of Google employees has sent a memo to company leadership demanding stronger commitments to protect the more vulnerable members of Google’s workforce, primarily its contract workers, during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, according to a report from Business Insider.

The memo is written by both full-time employees and contract workers, otherwise known as “TVC” employees for temporary, vendor or contractor.

Google has a longstanding reputation for employing a massive number of contract workers it treats as second-class employees to cut costs and avoid having to foot the bill for the benefits it provides to full-time workers, including access to certain transportation and dining options and other benefits like stock options, paid vacation time, and premium healthcare plans.

GOOGLE HAS LONG BEEN ACCUSED OF EMPLOYING A ‘SHADOW WORKFORCE’ OF CONTRACTORS

These workers aren’t just cafeteria employees, security guards, or those who drive the company’s many commuter shuttle buses. The contractor workforce at Google includes programmers, graphic designers, human resource employees and all manner of other office workers, as well. 

The New York Times referred to these people in an investigation last year as Google’s “shadow workforce,” which has grown in recent years to roughly the same size as the company’s full-time employee count.

The coronavirus pandemic is now making the division between full-time Google workers and contract ones even starker.

The memo circulating internally on Tuesday includes a list of demands. The memo writers want firm work-from-home policies for all Google offices and a guarantee of paid time off in the event workers are forced to stay home due to self-quarantine measures or shelter in place orders from local government, or in the event, their job involved a service that cannot be offered due to office closures and other disruptions to Google’s operations.

The memo notes that some Google contractors, like those in the company’s Pittsburgh office employed by an independent company called HCL Technologies, have been forced to come into the office, even as full-time Google employees were first allowed and then instructed to stay home.

According to Business Insider, some HCL contractors wore black in a protest at the Pittsburgh office’s cafeteria on Monday. The participating workers, who are unionized through HCL, publicized the protest ahead of the memo’s circulation through their local chapter.

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