Google's freelancers have a message for the company: The 'gig' is up.
Google's temp workers, vendors, and contractors, also known as TVCs, called out the company for how it treats its freelance workforce in an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai. The employees are demanding benefits such as paid time off, holiday pay, family leave, and "high-quality health care." They are also requesting access to town hall discussions, internal forums, and all communications pertaining to safety, discrimination, and sexual misconduct.
Among their main grievances is a lack of transparency and communication about important company issues, some of which affect Google's freelance workforce--not just full-time employees. When an active shooter opened fire in YouTube's offices last April, for example, the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving contract workers "defenseless in the line of fire," according to the letter. Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The workers also allege the tech titan is increasingly hiring contractors rather than full-time employees to fill "all types of roles," implying that Google depends on them to carry out tasks previously performed by full-timers. Indeed, in 2018 Google employed more freelancers than full-time employees, according to a report published by Bloomberg in July.
"TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections, and respect," reads the letter, published Wednesday. "We do essential work, from marketing to running engineering teams to feeding you and the rest of the Google staff--all without fair benefits or recognition. Google cannot function without us."
The letter highlights a growing trend of employees speaking up publicly about internal company affairs. Facebook, Google, and even Amazon have been placed under the microscope for a number of concerns, ranging from discrimination and diversity to government defense contracts and working conditions.
The unrest at Google is indicative of a larger trend in the gig economy of freelancers convening on behalf of better salaries and benefits. Just this week, after a two-year lobbying effort, New York City passed a measure that sets a minimum wage for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing companies.