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Half of Google’s workforce is reportedly treated like second-class citizens

Half of Google’s workforce is reportedly treated like second-class citizens
[Photo: Paweł Czerwiński/Unsplash]

Working at Google comes with a lot of perks. But it turns out those are only available to some of the company’s workforce. A new Guardian article describes the tens of thousands of workers considered temps, vendors, and contractors (TVCs), and the unequal treatment they receive from the company. According to an anonymous employee who spoke with the news outlet, 49.95% of Google’s 170,000 workers around the globe are considered TVCs. And there’s a whole handbook the company gives to managers explaining how to deal with this second class of laborers.

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Per this manual, managers are not allowed to give TVCs any swag, bonuses, or gifts. This is because they are technically hired by other businesses and it may interfere with company policy. What’s more, many company practices and meetings are relegated only to those considered full time. For example, reports the Guardian, Google recently announced it would end forced arbitration during cases of sexual harassment. This change, however, is reportedly only for full-time employees. Not only that but some contractors allegedly aren’t allowed to attend team meetings–even if they are considered a part of the team at hand.

In some cases, it makes the company look like it’s fostering tiered worker classes. During all-hands meetings, security guards reportedly stand guard to make sure only people with red badges are allowed inside. During the shooting at the YouTube offices, some TVCs said they didn’t receive the same security updates as full-time employees. (Google disputed this claim to the Guardian.)

A spokesperson provided the Guardian with the following statement:

We hire Google employees to work on jobs that are core to our business, and look to temps, vendors and contractors when we either don’t have the expertise or infrastructure ourselves, or when we need temporary help due to employee leaves or short-term projects . . . Temps, vendors and contractors are an important part of our extended workforce, but they are employed by other companies, not Google.

I reached out to Google for additional comment and a spokesperson provide me with the same statement, adding “our Supplier Code of Conduct holds companies accountable for providing their employees with a safe and inclusive work environment.”

While it’s true that in some cases some TVCs have different purviews than regular Google employees, the guide sure makes it seem like the company is building a separate work environment for people under the same roof.

In a world where more and more people are being forced into temporary or contract labor–while companies like Google are heralded for the pay and perks they provide for employees–this provides helpful context about what actually might be going on.

You can read the full report here.

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