Google employees and subcontractors demand that the company pay back salaries to temporary employees, after a security guard Report which revealed that Google had deliberately and illegally underpaid thousands of temps for years.
More than 140 workers have signed one production addressed to Google executives urging the company to “immediately repay all temporary staff, suppliers and contractors (TVC) who have knowingly been overpaid by Google” and to “create an immediate path to permanent employment for temporary staff and end its two-step sperm -temp – system ”.
“Google’s intentional use of TVC is a major moral failure,” the letter said. “For much of Google’s workforce, ‘Don’t be evil’ is a smokescreen. It is a way of reaping the economic benefits of indisputable public belief, by reassuring investors, users and authorities that Google is reliable and friendly – while successfully underpaying and abusing the majority of their workers. ”
The letter, which began circulating inside Google on Wednesday, was organized by the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a minority unions affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) which was formed in January 2021 and has more than 800 members in the United States and Canada. AWU intends to organize both among Google’s direct employees, who have more than 140,000 worldwide, and its large “shadow labor“Of more than 150,000 subcontractors, internally known as TVC.
On Friday, the Guardian revealed that Google had violated gender equality laws in the UK, continental Europe and Asia that require temporary employees to receive equal pay for full-time employees who perform similar work. While most of Google’s TVCs are considered suppliers, thousands of temps in dozens of countries are protected by local laws that require wage parity.
In May 2019, the company’s executives realized that “comparative” data provided by Google to staffing companies had not been updated for years, resulting in the company paying temps between 12% and 50% lower than required by law.
Instead of immediately tackling the problem, executives delayed taking action out of concern for the company’s reputation and the rising costs of Google departments, which are heavily dependent on temps, documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show.
At one point, Google executives followed a plan to just adjust the prices of new hires – at an increased annual cost of $ 17.3 million – while leaving incumbents and former employees in the dark about their lost wages, even though they acknowledged that such a plan was not “Correct result from a compliance perspective”.
Google acknowledged the failures on Friday, saying it was reviewing its compliance practices and was “determined to identify and address any pay gaps that the team has not already addressed”.
“We will find out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we will do the right thing,” said the company’s compliance manager, Spyro Karetsos, in a statement.
Shannon Wait, a member of the AWU who worked as a temporary worker at a Google data center from February 2019 to February 2021, said that the problems with Google’s use of temporary workers went beyond the issue of equal pay.
“The job that I did and that so many people do for Google at the data center is not temporary work,” she said. “It’s permanent work that Google staffs with contractors because it’s cheaper.
“I was not surprised but I was disappointed that Google would go so far as to cheat workers from their hard-earned wages in countries around the world,” she added. “This would not have happened if they only had a higher standard of employment practice to begin with, which means that full-time employees performed these roles.”
The issue of pay equality is just the latest labor dispute to affect Google’s activist employee base. In recent years, employees of the company have organized and protested over its handling of sexual harassment case, its plans for one censored search engine for China, its agreement with the US Department of Defense to provide technology for drones, its treatment of TVC, and claims that it was avenged against labor activists.
AWU is a result of that concern. In their request, the group called for an end to Google’s ‘two-tiered workforce’.
“The second level of 130,000 temporary staff, suppliers and contractors (TVC) is underpaid, often offered only unaffordable healthcare by contracting companies and prevented from Google-sponsored events,” the letter said.
“Without public awareness, TVC can even be fired for publicly claiming to work for Google … Google has the resources to treat all workers equally, but it chooses not to do so to further hoard its already astronomical financial resources. We demand that Google create an immediate path to permanent employment for temporary staff and end its two-tier permanent system. ”
Google declined to comment directly on the petition, but left one link to a blog post it published on the pay gap issue on Friday.