Google contract workers with Artech win thousands in back pay
Nearly a dozen Google contract workers won back tens of thousands of dollars in back pay owed to them by Artech, a subcontractor of Accenture, which is a major subcontractor of Google. Workers discovered a discrepancy between their pay stubs and the amount designated by Accenture to be paid directly to Artech employees. Workers were losing $5 to $10 dollars an hour, resulting in thousands of dollars of unpaid back pay. Currently there are still some workers waiting to receive the over ten thousand they are owed in back pay. The lack of pay transparency is an issue rampant amongst temporary, vendor, and contract workers at Google and workers say. Google must do more to ensure all workers are able to clearly understand their pay floor and salary raises opportunities.
“I work to create rich media for Google Help Center content viewed by millions of users; our team also gets tapped to do some pretty high visibility internal projects and content strategy. Many of our workers are subcontracted through Artech to staff Accenture’s contract with Google — creating a 3-tiered employment system. At about 6 months, we will be rolled on to Accenture Flex. For me, it felt like a promotion to a two-tiered system. It was during my transition to Flex that I asked for a raise and discovered that Accenture was supposedly paying $5 more for me all along. Artech admitted fault but it took many months to get the over $3,000 I had earned,” said Laura Greene, former Visual Designer at Artech and member of the Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America (AWU-CWA).
Artech is an IT staffing firm that prides itself on being the largest women-owned IT company in the US. Workers are hired by Artech, usually for 6 months, to work with Accenture in creating written and visual content that is published for customer and internal use like the Google Help Center. After 6 months, workers are typically hired by the Accenture Flex team to continue their work for Google. It was during this transition period that most workers discovered they had been victims of wage theft.
“After working at Artech for 6 months, developing critical content for Google users and full-time employees, I learned from other impacted workers that I was owed over ten thousand dollars in back pay. No Google worker, whether a full-time employee or contract worker, should be a victim of wage theft. Google must do more to hold contractors accountable to their workers and establish greater transparency around pay scales in order to ensure all workers know what they should be receiving and can advocate for the quality wages they deserve,” said Guy Mylius, a Google contractor with Artech.
Artech has several hundred employees in the Philippines, but these workers have been protected from wage theft thanks to local pay parity laws. In California, Senate Bill 1162 was introduced to increase pay transparency and pay data reporting. The Bill would require employers to submit pay data reports to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and include the median and mean hourly rate for employees categorized by race, ethnicity, and sex within specified job categories. It would also require California employers to proactively provide pay ranges in job postings. While this would not protect all Alphabet temporary, vendor, and contract workers across the globe, the bill is a key step forward to ensuring all workers receive the wages they are entitled to.
“Google tries to distance themselves from the issues contractors face by claiming that the issue is between the impacted employees and a specific contractor. What Google refuses to acknowledge is the fact that contractors base their policies off of the standards Google sets and enforces. Google should not have to wait until SB 1162 passes in California to publicly post pay ranges for job postings and pay data reporters to ensure that all workers are aware of the pay they should be receiving and thus better able to negotiate for the wages they deserve,” said Parul Koul, a software engineer at Google and Executive Chair of the Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America (AWU-CWA).
The ongoing effort to secure Artech workers the back pay they are owed follows a growing effort by workers to tackle Google’s two-tiered employment system. In June, Google Maps contract workers with Cognizant, based in the Google office in Bothell, WA, informed management that they planned to go on strike due to the unsafe working conditions imposed by the June 6 Return to Office (RTO) date. Shortly after, workers received an email that they had received a 90-day extension.
In November 2021, Google datacenter contractors came together to win back the pandemic bonuses they had been promised. Within a few short weeks, workers successfully won back thousands of dollars in pandemic bonuses from Modis management. These ongoing efforts underscore the growing organizing momentum within tech and the power of wall-to-wall union models like AWU-CWA that allow all workers to join together, regardless of employment classification, to secure concrete wins for workers.
CWA urges the FTC and the DOJ to take into account in merger review guidelines the role of collective bargaining in counterbalancing employer market power