Google workers call to expand abortion & privacy protections

In an article in TechCrunch by Taylor Hatmaker, a group of more than 600 Google employees is pushing the company to grow worker health benefits, rid itself of some political ties and bolster user privacy in light of the Supreme Court judgment to strip federal abortion rights.

The Google workers summoned the changes in a petition led by the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a labor union that began last year at the company and now has around 1,100 associates. The AWU advocates on behalf of full-time workers and temporary employees, vendors, and contractors (“TVCs”) at Google — a less perceptible slice of the company’s workforce evaluated to be more than 100,000 workers.

In the requisition, the group of Google workers asks the company to widen its reproductive healthcare travel assistance to protect its non-full-time workforce and to add additional sick days and more generous reimbursement stipends for that travel. The workers also summon that the company expands its support and vocabulary around reproductive healthcare to include transgender and non-binary employees who aren’t women but might require the same services.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, several corporations announced they would pay the costs associated with traversing across state lines to obtain an abortion. In an internal letter in late June, Google pledged that its U.S. health benefits would cover out-of-state medical processes not available to workers in the state where they live.

“The discussion I’ve had, personally, with coworkers is one of concern,” AWU member and Google Data Center Technician Bambi Okugawa informed TechCrunch. “Many are worried about their own well-being and financial hardships they may endure if they require to seek reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare in different states without having the same security net that full-time employees are offered.”

The petition also anoints Google to make a transparency report describing how well the vendors that directly employ its contract workers concede with enhanced standards for wages and concessions, including a provision for reproductive healthcare.

Outside worker protections, the signees ask Google to take additional measures to protect the people who use its products “from holding their data against them,” like in the recent case of law enforcement exerting Facebook data to prosecute a Nebraska teen and her mother. The petition anoints for Google to immediately enforce new data privacy protections for any activity on the company’s derivatives and platforms related to health.

“… For instance, searching for reproductive justice, gender-affirming care, and abortion access information on Google must never be preserved, handed over to law enforcement, or feted as a crime,” the petition forms. It also calls on Google to control further instances of Maps search results pointing users toward anti-abortion centers rather than abortion providers after Bloomberg said the phenomenon.

 

“I feel if any tech organization, be it Google, Facebook, Apple, etc., decides to pride themselves on user privacy, then they should back that up with actions aligned with that rationale,” Okugawa apprised TechCrunch. “I feel this is a wonderful possibility for Google to take the initiative and be a role model to other tech firms to take user privacy seriously and truly set the bar on superb user experience and relations.”

To enforce the changes, the signees ask that Google form a reliable taskforce akin to the company’s team assembled to handle the COVID-19 crisis.

The complete text of the petition the AWU sent to Google executives is below.

Protect our worker’s rights

We, the undersigned, recognize that all Alphabet workers, of all genders, are impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade and are disappointed in Alphabet’s response and influence on this ruling.

Alphabet has continued to make access to reproductive and gender affirming healthcare a “women’s issue” by only providing women@ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) with listening sessions, and using gendered language in their communication with workers when this is an issue that affects all of us.

In order to align with Google’s core values (go/3-google-values), we demand that Alphabet acknowledges the impact this Supreme Court ruling has on all its workers and to immediately do the following:

  1. Protect all workers’ access to reproductive healthcare by setting a reproductive healthcare standard in the US Wages and Benefits Standards (go/alphabet-tvc-benefits-standards) including:
  2. Extending the same travel-for-healthcare benefits offered to FTEs to TVCs.
  3. Adding minimum of 7 days of additional sick time because workers will need to travel for significant periods to obtain health services.
  4. Increasing FTE & TVC reimbursement amounts for travel to $150 per night. $50 is NOT a viable reimbursement for a hotel stay in most states, and does not address childcare or lost wages.
  5. Publishing a TVC transparency report, detailing vendors’ compliance to the Alphabet/Google US Wages and Benefits Standards. For example, details on why certain roles are exempt, and timelines for vendors to come into compliance.
  6. Protect our government from corporate influence. Alphabet must stop lobbying politicians and any political organizations, through NetPAC or any other means because these politicians were responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and continue to infringe on other human rights issues related to voting access and gun control.
  7. Protect our users and customers from having their data used against them and addressing the disinformation and misleading information as it pertains to abortion services and other reproductive healthcare services on all Alphabet platforms and products by:
  8. Instituting immediate user data privacy controls for all health-related activity, for example, searching for reproductive justice, gender-affirming care, and abortion access information on Google must never be saved, handed over to law enforcement, or treated as a crime.
  9. Fixing misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers.
  10. No longer working with publishers of disinformation related to abortion services who violate AdSense’s publishers policies related to unreliable and harmful claims about a major health crisis.
  11. Providing transparency into ad revenue sharing with Google custom search so that abortion services that pay for Google ads don’t inadvertently have their ad revenue go to organizations that are actively working against them.

In order to meet these demands, we call on Alphabet to create a dedicated task-force with 50% employee representation, responsible for implementing changes across all products and our company, just like Alphabet did for handling the COVID-19 pandemic