Last year, Google made international headlines but probably not for reasons it was pleased with. The big news involved 20,000 Google staff who walked out in protest over what they saw as discrimination, racism, sexual harassment, and a workplace culture they argued poorly handled such incidents.
The walkouts came shortly after The New York Times published an article revealing the Internet giant had paid millions of dollars in exit packages to male executives accused of misconduct while keeping quiet about the accusations.
Those staff walking out didn’t just include Google employees. Another component of Google’s workforce consisting of temporary, vendor, and contract workers (TVCs) has a new bone to pick with the company.
Nonemployees Speak Out
In a recent open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, a group of Google TVCs calling themselves “Google’s shadow workforce” argue that they aren’t privy to the same level of communication received by Google full-time employees.
“Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives,” the letter reads. “When the tragic shooting occurred at YouTube in April of , the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire.”
TVCs also were not invited to a town hall session the next day that employees were invited to. And, when those 20,000 full-time workers walked out demanding equal treatment, TVCs also failed to be included in a discussion among the company’s staff the following week.
The TVCs argue that they often do the same work as full-time employees but are treated differently, and they see this as part of a “system of institutional racism, sexism and discrimination.”
Their logic for this statement is that TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are “treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections and respect.”
The open letter issued two demands to Pichai and Google:
- “An end to pay and opportunity inequality for TVCs”; and
- “Access to company-wide information on the same terms as full-time employees.”
Regardless of what one sees as the merits of the grievances and demands in the Google TVCs’ open letter, it illustrates the growing importance of such workers in the global workforce and highlights potential issues that may arise if employers choose to treat nontraditional workers differently.
Should nontraditional employees receive the same treatment and the same communications as full-time workers? It’s an open question that high-profile actions like these may demand an answer to.