Lady Programmer

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Google against its workers – a continued struggle

Recently Google has faced a lot of backlash over their treatment of employees. As you may know, recently Alphabet had one of the largest layoffs in company’s history. To make things worse, this coincided with an earnings call, which led some people to believe that this was done solely to boost company stock. While this is good for shareholders and good for business, there are some questions about how ethical it is.

Another problem is that Cognizant, the company who hires contractors for YouTube music, is forcing people back to office. The company hired remote employees during the pandemic, and those employees now don’t want to move to Austin offices. They say that their salaries (starting at $19 per hour) aren’t enough to justify a move to a different city. Some have speculated that this is another tactic by Google to force its workforce to resign.

A lot of people have had family situations or other factors that make it difficult to move, especially for a contractor job. To me, their anger is understandable.

43-person team is going to strike and refuse the return to office policy. Cognizant (the company that actually employs people working on YouTube music) says that individual employees were informed of work conditions. They also say that employees knew they’d have to return to office by 2021. Technically this makes them right to demand people to go back to office, but some employees say that they are objectively more productively remote. In that case, I don’t see the justification for forcing employees to go back to office.

This isn’t the first time Google has gotten in trouble for treating their workers poorly. They also have problem acknowledging people as full-time employees, instead preferring to hire them as contractors to not cover benefits for them. For example, Google employs people who rate search experience. These are unofficially called ‘raters’, and before last year, the search giant has paid them a measly $10 per hour. After protests, raters got their pay raises to $14.

Google is not the only one. Many tech companies hired too many employees, and expanded too much during the pandemic. Now pandemic is over and the growth has slowed down, and these same companies have to lay people off.

It seems like the golden era of workers in tech has come to an end. A lot of tech giants are becoming more efficient and lean. In the past, these companies were all about hiring the best talent, and figuring out the assignments and what to do with these people later. Now it seems like the focus is on efficiency.

Ultimately, I believe these conflicts between big tech employees and their companies can only be solved by mutual compromise. But it shouldn’t be a typical compromise, where employees get nothing and employers get everything. Otherwise the anger is going to build up, and people are really going to unionize.

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