Google’s workers who provide childcare and education for staffers’ kids say the internet giant is summoning them back to the office without restoring the shuttle service they rely on, and they’re circulating a petition urging the Alphabet Inc. unit to provide a transportation stipend to cover commuting costs.
“Shifting this cost to essential workers, who earn far less than the Googlers whose children they care for, is unacceptable,” according to the petition, which members of the Alphabet Workers Union drafted and began circulating Friday. “Google can be an extraordinary problem solver, but is choosing not to solve this problem for its childcare workers.”
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The petition, which in its first hours had garnered signatures from about 200 Alphabet workers, says the staffers at Google Children’s Centers have tried raising the issue with managers, to no avail: “The corporate response was ‘Transportation is just a perk, not a benefit.’”
A Google representative said Friday that the shuttle service will be available “as soon as it’s safe,” but declined to give a timeline.
The company added that childcare staff were paid in full during the pandemic when the Google center was closed, and like other Google employees they received an extra $1,000 work-from-home stipend.
“We work hard to provide a positive, rewarding and fulfilling experience for all our employees, including for our Google Educators at our Children’s Centers,” Google spokesperson Shannon Newberry said in a separate statement. “We welcome feedback and will continue to work with any employee who has concerns.”
Early child educators and caretakers work at four Google Children’s Centers near the company’s San Francisco Bay Area offices, with employees’ kids under their care ranging from infants to 5-year-olds.
During the pandemic they’ve provided virtual activities such as yoga and reading books to kids. In interviews, employees said their comparatively low pay makes it infeasible to live near Google’s campuses, and the refusal to help with their transportation reflects an undervaluing of their labor.