Warren, Harris Among Senators Urging Google To End Abuse Of Temporary Contract Workers

Some estimate Google employs more than 120,000 temporary and contract workers -- and a group of Democratic senators want them changed to full-time status.

In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the group of senators refer to the company’s employment practices as “anti-worker.” The letter, which demands that the company turn the temporary workers into employees, was sent after The New York Times reported the company employs 102,000 full-time employees and 121,000 temporary and contract workers.

It’s not clear how many of Google’s temporary or contract workers are in the United States with working visas.

“Temporary workers and independent contractors are by definition intended for short-term and non-core work, and we urge Google to end any abuse of these worker classifications and treat all Google workers equally,” per the letter.

Pew Research Center estimates 1 million unauthorized immigrants have temporary permission to live and work in the U.S. through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs.

It’s also not clear how many of Google’s temporary or contract workers work on search and advertising-related projects.

Temporary workers at Google outnumber employees -- a situation that is not uncommon in the tech and IT world. I am very familiar with contract status. For starters, it’s less expensive to run a business with temporary or contract workers, especially if the person is hired directly rather than through an agency.

My late husband worked as a software contractor throughout most of his career for companies such as Honda and Southern California Edison. As a contractor, the employer can terminate the employee at any time. Employment also did not include vacation and sick pay, in addition to many other perks that come along with full-time status.

The letter from the senators specifically urges Google to commit to taking immediate action by offering similar wage and benefits to independent contractors, temporary workers and permanent full-time employees. The senators also want Google to disclose at the beginning when they would transition to permanent status.

The letter sent by the senators lists many more requests. “Making these changes to your company’s employment practices will ensure equal treatment of all Google workers and put an end to the two-tier employment structure you have perpetuated,” per the letter.

The letter was signed by 10 senators, including presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and requests a response by August 9, 2019.

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