Ten U.S. Senators are imploring Google to recognize its contractors that consistently provide services as full-time employees once they reach the six-months mark. Inspired by a New York Times report that revealed most of Google’s workers are temps, with 121,000 contract employees and 102,000 full-time employees.
“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, ” reads the letter, which is addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
CNBC’s report of the issue explains that contractors make significantly less than their full-time counterparts, with statistics from GlassDoor showing the median pay for contractors at $90,000 per year and the median pay for full-time employees at $128,000.
“The differences between the categories of workers appears to be in name only, ” the letter continues. “In at least some cases, your company determines where these individuals work, the hours they work, the tasks they perform, and whether or not they should continue to work on Google contracts. In the case of temporary workers, they are commonly working on permanent projects alongside full-time Google employees for years and typically at much lower pay than their full-time employee counterparts.”
The issue runs even deeper than the obvious problems of benefits and salary inequity. Contracted employees have little pull when it comes to workplace discrimination or harassment. The Times told the story of Mindy Cruz, a Google contractor who hoped to one day be brought onto the full-time team, but was fired after rejecting her manager’s sexual advances.
“I had heard that a lot of times when you say something to your recruiting agency, they just take you out of the situation and put you somewhere else,” Ms. Cruz said. “And I didn’t want my job to go away.”
Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, Patty Murray, Benjamin Cardin, Brian Schatz, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Richard Durbin and Bernie Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with the Democrats all signed the letter.
Eileen Naughton, VP of people operations, responded with a letter representing Google’s stance.
“We are proud to create economic opportunities for both the people we employ directly and our extended workforce of vendors, temporary staff and independent contractors, and believe that our practices in this regard accord with the highest industry standards. Respectfully, we strongly disagree with any suggestion that Google misuses independent contractors or temporary workers,” reads the response letter. “Independent contractors comprise 0.5% of our total workforce and we independently vet all of our independent contractors to ensure they meet the requirements of a 1099 workers.”