It’s been just over a month since thousands of Googlers around the world walked out of their workplaces in protest of their employer’s business practices. The organizers of the protest published a list of demands, which included an end to forced arbitration for harassment and discrimination and fixing pay and opportunity equity at Google. (You can read the full list here.) It worked — at least in part. CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company has ended forced arbitration and is creating a more transparent process for sexual harassment investigations. But Pichai’s announcement didn’t address a number of the organizers’ other demands — like placing an employee representative on the Board of Directors or being open about the exit packages paid to those forced out of Google — and the few things it did address only technically apply to Google’s full-time staff. Which, as any Googler will tell you, grossly ignores a large section of people who work at Google: TVCs, contract workers who account for more than half of the company’s employees.
TVCs did not receive Pichai’s note about the policy changes earlier this year because those changes do not apply to them. (TVCs — the acronym is short for “Temporary, Vendor, and Contract workers” — as noted by the Tech Workers Coalition, are “disproportionately women and people of color.”) On Wednesday, a group of TVCs and full-time Googlers published a letter to Pichai on Medium demanding changes to benefit TVCs. “Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives,” the letter begins, before explaining that when Nasim Najafi Aghdam attacked YouTube’s headquarters (Google owns YouTube) in San Bruno, California in April, the company only sent emergency alert emails to full-time employees. (Aghdam injured four people before ultimately killing herself.) TVCs were not invited to a town hall meeting following the shooting, nor were they invited to a similar meeting held after November’s walkouts.
The exclusion of TVCs from important communications and fair treatment is part of a system of institutional racism, sexism, and discrimination. TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections, and respect. We wear different badges from full-time employees, which reinforces this arbitrary and discriminatory separation. Even when we’re doing the same work as full-time employees, these jobs routinely fail to provide living wages and often offer minimal benefits. This affects not only us, but also our families and communities.
The letter ends with two demands. First, that Google put “an end to pay and opportunity inequity for TVCs.” Second, that the company provide “access to company-wide information on the same terms as full-time employees.” At the end of November, Googlers, working with Amnesty International, published a different open letter to the company. This one demanded Google stop its work on Project Dragonfly, a search engine designed to comply with China’s strict censorship laws.