A group of Google employees wrote to Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai demanding better conditions for the thousands of contractors that make up more than half of the internet giant’s workforce.
Last month, Alphabet Inc. overhauled the way it handles allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but the updated policies largely left out temporary, vendor and contract workers. On Wednesday, a group of full-time and contract workers sent a letter to Pichai asking for that to change. They also listed other requests, such as access to companywide emails and town hall staff meetings, better health care and benefits, and a more transparent process for applying for full-time jobs.
“We will continue to be mistreated and ignored if we stay silent,” the workers wrote in the letter. “Google has the power — and the money — to ensure that we are treated equitably.”
This is the latest example of Google employees speaking out, at a time when the company is being criticized for its handling of sexual misconduct, contracts with the U.S. military and a plan to build a censored search engine in China. A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment on the letter. The company has said it has strict rules for how vendors and suppliers respond to misconduct, and investigates when a contractor makes a complaint against a Google employee.
U.S. corporations often use contractors. But some Google employees and outside activists contend the company, which is on track to make more than $30 billion in profit this year, can easily afford to treat everyone who works in its offices the same.
In July, Bloomberg wrote about Google’s “shadow workforce” and revealed that earlier this year, for the first time, temporary, vendor and contract workers made up more than half of the company’s total staff.
The workers, known internally as “TVCs,” do all sorts of jobs, from serving meals and piloting self-driving cars to writing code and managing teams. Unlike full-time workers, they aren’t given stock, and many struggle with inadequate health care. They aren’t allowed in some buildings or at certain company meetings.
They are often employed by outside agencies, including Adecco Group, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Randstad.
Several TVCs interviewed recently by Bloomberg News described feeling like second-class citizens compared with full-time Google employees.