Google contractors: We didn’t get security alerts during Ap…


Nearly a month after more than 20,000 Google workers walked off the job to protest the search giant’s handling of sexual misconduct cases, CEO Sundar Pichai is being called out for how the company treats its contract employees. The claims include limiting access to information involving worker safety.

Google in November revamped the way it deals with claims of sexual harassment and assault, but the revised policies largely exclude thousands of contractors supplied by a third-party. These workers reportedly make up more than half of Google’s total staff. A group of them on Wednesday wrote an open letter to Pichai demanding change.

The unequal treatment includes denying contract workers — called TVCs at Google — “information that is relevant to our jobs and to our lives,” the letter said. “When the tragic shooting occurred at YouTube in April of this year, the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire.”

Three people were shot and injured before the shooter killed herself in the incident at Google-owned YouTube in San Bruno, California. Contract workers were excluded from a town hall discussion the day after the shooting at the facility and again at another town hall after the November walkout in which they had taken part, the letter said.

Google declined through a spokesperson to comment on the letter, which also asked that contract workers have access to companywide emails and meetings, improved pay and benefits, and a more transparent means of applying for full-time jobs.

Beyond the backlash over its workplace culture, Google workers have spoken out this year on issues including an artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon and the company’s reviewing a plan to relaunch its search engine in China.

Hiring workers as independent contractors — who don’t receive the benefits of full-time employment — has exploded in recent years. One 2016 study by economists at Harvard and Princeton estimated that 12.5 million Americans, or 8.4 percent of the workforce, were labeled as independent contractors.

The misclassification of workers as independent contractors costs California about $7 billion in lost payroll taxes each year, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations.

A California Supreme Court ruling in April set a higher bar for classifying workers as independent contractors in a definition intended to help clarify matters for lower courts dealing with the issue.

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