Press Release

AWU-CWA Condemns Google for Ending its Minimum Wage Policy for Subcontractors



April 22, 2024 12:32 PM

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(Mountain View, CA)—Late on Friday, April 19, 2024 Google announced its decision to roll back its labor standards requirements for the U.S. vendors and staffing firms that account for roughly a third of the company’s domestic workforce. The subcontractors and temporary workers that make up Google’s extended workforce will no longer be entitled to a $15 an hour minimum wage, health insurance or other fundamental benefits. The Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, which represents both direct employees and contract workers across the company, condemns Google for this blatant disregard of their workers’ well-being. 

“As Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America, we are disgusted by Google’s decision to roll back its commitments to a $15 minimum wage and health care benefits for all subcontractors, who make up over a third of the company’s workforce. For years, workers with AWU-CWA have organized to demand Google enforce these stated requirements of subcontractors and staffing agencies. Our fight has resulted in thousands of dollars in raises for workers across the country who spoke up and demanded their fair share, and that fight continues. Google clearly made this policy change as a legal trick to squirm out of its responsibilities to subcontracted workers. It is extremely telling that in order to avoid its legal duty to bargain a fair contract with us, Google is willing to withdraw its commitment to paying a livable wage and benefit to tens of thousands of US workers. We remain committed to winning a fair share of Google’s tremendous profits for all the workers who make its nearly $2 trillion market cap possible,” said Parul Koul, President of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA. 

Google has always failed to live up to its stated commitment to its extended workforce. In February 2023, AWU-CWA published the largest and most comprehensive survey of Alphabet vendor workers in a report titled, "Every Google Worker: An Examination of Alphabet's US Shadow Workforce". In 2019, Alphabet, the Google parent company, employed an estimated ​​121,000 temps and contractors globally, compared with 102,000 full time workers. In early 2022 nearly 26,000 of the estimated 50,000 US-based vendors were surveyed by members of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA via their corporate emails. It was discovered that thousands of workers are denied the minimum standard of benefits set by Alphabet and inequities among vendors are exacerbated by race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability resulting in thousands of dollars in wage gaps.

Google’s recent policy change makes clear that the company prefers squeezing profit out of workers doing the hard work that innovation requires. The company is tremendously profitable and has a market cap approaching $2 trillion, yet it now refuses to guarantee that its workers receive a living wage and health benefits. Despite this change and the layoffs of over 1,000 of our colleagues over the past 12 months, Google executive’s pay has gone untouched.

As AWU-CWA we understand that Google’s decision was made in part by the company’s continued efforts to avoid its responsibility to bargain collectively with subcontractors who have elected to join our union. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Google must sit down to negotiate wages and benefits with these workers who have demanded livable wages and benefits. The change Google made late last Friday afternoon is an attempt by Google to avoid responsibility for whether workers can support themselves and their families and is consistent with the union-busting streak Google earlier displayed with the mass layoffs of workers who had exercised their right to organize and bargain collectively for a fair contract. 

Over the last few years thousands of contract workers have organized and won significant raises inline with Google’s own stated policy. These efforts will not stop. We condemn this decision in the strongest terms. It is the behavior of a company that has abandoned the commitments to workers which made it a colossal success. We call on Google to embrace innovation and excellence and end its recent drive to profit from the increasing exploitation of its workers.