Google will now require outside companies who employ temporary and vendor staff to offer health care benefits, parental leave, and a minimum wage of $15 per hour, as reported by The Hill.
This is a significant announcement because Google relies on far more temporary and contract workers (TVCs) than most people realize. The Hill reported that a letter from a group of Google Workers, calling for equal treatment, claimed TVCs make up 54 percent of Google’s workforce — or about 122,000 positions.
More than 900 employees signed the letter supporting temporary and contract workers. According to The Guardian, part of the catalyst was Google shortening contracts for work on Google Assistant in March. Cuts like that drastically impact TVCs.
“For years, Google has boasted of its ability to scale up and down very quickly, and [sic] vocal in its ability to navigate changes with agility,” the letter says, according to The Guardian. “A whole team thrown into financial uncertainty is what scaling down quickly looks like for Google workers. This is the human cost of agility.”
Although Google announced the changes, they aren’t happening right away. Some have criticized the fact that the wage requirements won’t go into effect until 2020, following with health care benefits — by the year 2022.
However, details matter too. The $15 minimum wage requirement doesn’t come into effect til 2020 and health benefits not til 2022. Changes announced today apply to no one working right now—but workers can't wait years to pay rent, see doctors and care for their families.
— Tech Workers Coalition (@techworkersco) April 2, 2019
The Tech Workers Coalition, a group organizing workers in the tech industry, tweeted, “Changes announced today apply to no one working right now — but workers can’t wait years to pay rent, see doctors and care for their families.”
In a separate tweet, the organization added, “P.S. This announcement also doesn’t protect the rights of TVC workers to organize. If Google really wants to stand up for its TVC workforce’s rights, it would make all contractors/vendors immediately agree to labor neutrality to ensure workers can form a union.”
Using temporary and contract workers to avoid paying living wages and offering benefits is a trend that’s seen throughout the tech industry and it’s one that advocates say needs to end. The move by Google is one step in a much longer battle to give workers their power.