Why Layoff Protections Matter: Testimony from a Google Contract Worker
Right now, the future of layoff protections for workers in California sits in the Governor’s hands. AB 1356, the Protect Laid-Off Workers Act, passed resoundingly through the California Assembly and State Senate, needing Governor Newsom’s signature to make it into law.
AB 1356 wouldn’t be where it is today without the tireless work of labor advocates and the fearless workers who have stepped into the spotlight to share their stories. We want to highlight David Jones-Krause, who shared their own story of being let go suddenly after five years of contracting work for Google. Below is their testimony in front of the California Senate Judiciary Committee from earlier this year:
My name is David Jones-Krause, and I’m a member of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA. Alphabet calls their indirect employees “TVCs” which stands for “Temp/Vendor/Contractor.” In 4 years at Google, I have been a T, a V, and a C. I, along with the vast majority of Content Manager TVCs, was laid off in November, without any form of severance.
Legislation like AB 1356 is a substantive step towards alleviating the worst outcomes of this exploitative system for workers, like myself, who have virtually no protections during layoffs.
I’m still unemployed today, and every time I speak out against the inequities TVCs face, I worry that I prolong my unemployment, my financial uncertainty. But I have the privilege of no debt and a spouse with a stable job. Those blessings would be squandered if I didn’t speak out on behalf of those for whom the risks of being outspoken are too great to come here today.
Right now, it’s cheaper, faster, and less newsworthy to get rid of TVCs, who make up the majority of Alphabet’s workforce. Legislation like AB 1356 is a substantive step towards alleviating the worst outcomes of this exploitative system for workers, like myself, who have virtually no protections during layoffs.
In late August, I noticed that increased vendor delegation was among the stated goals for Q4. As a temp worker, I feared that meant my job would be passed off to a larger vendor management firm. In mid-November, exactly that occurred. We were laid off en masse, often with as little as two weeks’ notice. If Google knew this was the plan in August, why wait until November to tell us? Many of my coworkers are parents, suddenly unsure of how to provide for their children. They’re H1-B visa holders, up against the clock to find new sponsorship to preserve their status. Statistically, TVCs are more likely to belong to already marginalized communities.
With AB 1356, you, our elected representatives, can protect the most vulnerable members of your constituency with impactful protections for the inevitable layoffs in our future, layoffs that invariably impact them first and most significantly.
As long as employers lack a legal mandate to provide contract workers with advance notice of their termination, they’ll do so on a timeline that serves their bottom line and shareholders, no matter the often catastrophic impact on those of us they’re letting go.
Articles call us the shadow workforce. Legislation like AB 1356 that acknowledges our worthiness of the same protections afforded to directly hired employees is vital if we’re ever going to make it into the light.
Want to help make layoff protections a reality for contract workers in California? Share David’s story on social media to let Governor Newsom know we want stronger layoff protections for workers!