Workers demand that Google increase its protections for abortion

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke federal abortion rights, a group of more than 600 Google employees are urging the business to increase worker health benefits, divest itself of some political links, and strengthen user privacy.

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a union that established at Google last year and now counts roughly 1,100 employees, is responsible for organising the petition in which the company’s employees express their demands for reform. The AWU defends the interests of Google’s less-heralded workforce, which is estimated to number over 100,000 people but is rarely discussed in the media. This includes both permanent employees and temporary workers, suppliers, and contractors (“TVCs”).

The petitioners are a group of Google employees who are requesting that the firm expand its reproductive healthcare travel aid to include its part-time personnel, provide more sick days, and provide more substantial reimbursement stipends for such travel. Workers want the corporation to recognise that transgender and non-binary employees may also require reproductive healthcare and to involve them in its efforts to provide for and speak about such services.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some businesses made public pledges to cover the costs of cross-border abortion travel. In a letter sent to employees at the end of June, Google reiterated that its health insurance in the United States would cover any medical treatment received outside of the employee’s home state.

“The discourse I’ve had, personally, with coworkers is absolutely one of concern,” AWU member and Google Data Center Technician Bambi Okugawa said. As the article adds, “many are worried about their own wellbeing and the financial problems they may experience if they need to seek out reproductive or gender-affirming treatment in other states without the same safety net that full-time employees are guaranteed.”

The petition also requests that Google publish a transparency report describing the degree to which third-party vendors directly employing its contract workers adhere with a set of expanded requirements for compensation and benefits, which includes a provision for reproductive healthcare.

The signatories encourage Google to safeguard its customers “from having their data used against them,” such as in the recent case when law enforcement used Facebook data to prosecute a Nebraska youngster and her mother. The petition demands that Google immediately put in place additional data privacy measures for all health-related use of Google’s products and platforms.

A search on Google for “reproductive justice,” “gender affirming care,” or “abortion access” should never be stored, shared with law police, or considered illegal, according to the petition. After Bloomberg’s article on the issue, the letter asks Google to take steps to ensure that users of Maps don’t end up being sent to anti-abortion centres instead of actual abortion clinics.

Okugawa expressed his opinion, saying, “I feel if any tech company, be it Google, Facebook, Apple, etc., chooses to pride themselves on user privacy then they should back that up with actions aligned with that cause.” I think this is a great chance for Google to lead by example and encourage other tech firms to respect their users’ privacy and provide exceptional service to their customers.

The signees recommend that Google establish a special task group, similar to the one the corporation formed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, to carry out the necessary improvements.

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 [email protected] 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:

a. Extending the same travel-for-healthcare benefits offered to FTEs to TVCs.

b. Adding minimum of 7 days of additional sick time because workers will need to travel for significant periods to obtain health services.

c. 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.

d. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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:

a. 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.

b. Fixing misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers.

c. 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.

d. 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.

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 [email protected] 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:

a. Extending the same travel-for-healthcare benefits offered to FTEs to TVCs.

b. Adding minimum of 7 days of additional sick time because workers will need to travel for significant periods to obtain health services.

c. 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.

d. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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:

a. 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.

b. Fixing misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers.

c. 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.

d. 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.