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Google contractors ( often referred to as Google’s “shadow workforce”) wrote an open letter on Medium to Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google, yesterday, demanding him to address their demands of better conditions and equal benefits for contractors, that make up more than half of the company’s total staff. Contractors ( vendors, temps, TVCs) are workers who are employed by different outside agencies within Google for all types of different jobs (coders, managers, marketers, janitors, waiters, etc).  

It was just last month when 20,000 Google employees along with TVCs, temps, vendors, and contractors walked out to protest against Google’s handling of sexual harassment and discrimination within the workplace. As a part of the walkout, Google employees had made five demands urging Google to bring about structural changes within the workplace. One of the demands laid out by Google employees was “commitment to ending pay and opportunity inequity” for all levels of the organization, including the contract workers and the sub-contract workers. However, Google didn’t address any of the issues surrounding the TVCs so far.

As TVCs who took equal part in the walkout, your silence has been deafening. Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives,” reads the letter. An example mentioned in the letter is of the tragic shooting at YouTube headquarters in April, this year, where Google sent security related updates to its employees in real time, “leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire”. Moreover, TVCs were not even invited to the post-shooting town hall meeting the following day. Similarly, TVCs were also excluded from the town hall meeting that was conducted six days post walkout.

“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”, reads the letter. The letter also points out the fact that contractors wear different colored badges from full-time employees, get low wages despite doing the same work as full-time employees, and are offered minimal benefits as compared to full-time employees.

“Google has the power — and the money — to ensure that we are treated equitably, with respect and dignity. However, it is clear that we will continue to be mistreated and ignored if we stay silent. We need transparency, accountability, and structural change to ensure equity for all Google workers, ”reads the letter. Contractors have now reiterated the demands of the walkout:

  • End to pay and opportunity inequity for TVCs. This demand includes better pay and same benefits for contractors as full-time employees such as high-quality healthcare, paid vacations, paid sick days, holiday pay, family leave, and bonuses.  There should also be a consistent and transparent conversion process to full-time employment, along with adopting single badge color for all workers.
  • Access to company-wide information on the same terms as full-time employees. This includes access to town hall discussions, communications about safety, discrimination, sexual misconduct, access to internal forums like Google Groups, career growth, classes, and counseling opportunities, similar to the ones offered to full-time employees.

Public response to the letter has been largely positive, with people supporting contractors for speaking out:

Google hasn’t responded yet regarding the demands and for now, we can only wait and see if and when these demands get addressed by Google.

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Tech writer at the Packt Hub. Dreamer, book nerd, lover of scented candles, karaoke, and Gilmore Girls.