Tech companies will pay for abortion travel, but not for all workers

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When the USA The Supreme Court overturned Rowe vs. Wade Abortion was soon banned or restricted in several states last month, but some tech companies have promised to help workers bypass those restrictions. Google, Amazon, Lyft and DoorDash have told employees they can claim reimbursement for out-of-state travel for abortion treatment. Google went even further, offering to let employees into the affected states on a permanent basis. move. Not included in these generous new benefits are workers, temporary workers and subcontractors, who make up a significant portion, and sometimes the majority, of these companies’ workforce.

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Excluding these workers from abortion benefits deepens divisions within the two-tier tech industry workforce. At large tech companies, temporary employees, suppliers and contractors—called TVCs—often work alongside permanent employees for less pay, fewer benefits, and less job security. They make up a large and growing share of the technology industry workforce.

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At Amazon, hundreds of thousands of drivers who drive delivery vans and branded trucks work for small third-party contractors, making them ineligible for Amazon benefits. And because Uber, Lyft and DoorDash classify their drivers as independent contractors, they also remain excluded from employee benefits. 2019 The newspaper “New York Times the report showed that Google’s 121,000 temporary employees and contractors outnumber its 102,000 full-time employees.

Last week, the Alphabet Workers Union, which includes workers from Google and other companies owned by its parent company Alphabet, denounced the company’s selective abortion travel policy. “This does not meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Alphabet temporary workers, salespeople and contract workers who are most likely to live in states with limited access to abortion, are more likely to be workers of color and people who can get pregnant. and they are unlikely to have the resources to move because Alphabet systematically underpays them,” AWU executive chairman Parul Kul, a Google software engineer, wrote in a statement.

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One group of Google subcontractors working in a store that sells Google Fiber broadband service is fighting to be included in the abortion travel benefit. In March, employees at a pair of Google Fiber stores in Kansas City, Missouri, hired by staffing firm BDS Solutions, voted to merge. After Caviar fell, the state of Missouri enacted a total ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. A store worker told WIRED that the union was about to begin negotiations for its first contract and plans to seek abortion travel benefits. Most tech contractors or gig workers don’t have a shred of hope. They often collide significant barriers joining a union or gaining secure bargaining rights.

Amazon spokesman Brad Glasser confirmed that third-party contractors are not covered by the company’s medical plans, including travel benefits. DoorDash and Lyft have confirmed that their abortion travel benefits are not available to drivers. DoorDash spokeswoman Abby Homer said the company is working with policy makers to develop benefits for its drivers who will follow them from company to company. Lyft spokesperson Shadon Reddick-Smith sent a blog post from President of Business Affairs Christine Swerchek saying the company has donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood and is partnering with the organization for a pilot “Women’s Transportation Access Program” but did not share details. about what that entails. Alphabet spokesperson Courtney Mencini did not comment on TVC employees, but shared Blog post outlining the latest updates to protect user privacy regarding healthcare.

Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Uber also rely on large pools of TVC or gig workers and have announced abortion benefits for their employees. When asked if the insurance covers freelancers, Microsoft spokeswoman Michelle Mikor declined to answer; the remaining three companies did not respond.

Ironically, workers denied abortion travel benefits are likely to need them more than full-time technicians, given their generally lower wages. In 2015 Brookings Institution found that people with family incomes below the federal poverty line, who tend to have less access to contraceptives and family planning education, were five times more likely than wealthier people to experience an unintended pregnancy. Black and Hispanic people are overrepresented among those who seek abortion.

People with lower incomes are also less likely to have health insurance that covers abortion. IN 2014, the latest year for which the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit abortion policy, has data, only 31 percent of people seeking abortion care had any private health insurance at all. Another 35 percent were covered by Medicaid, which excludes much of the abortion coverage. in 34 states it won’t fund it.

Experts say there are many ways tech companies can support TV and gig workers in the post-crisis period.Caviar USA if they want. Shelly Alpern, director of corporate engagement at Rhia Ventures, a social impact investment firm that presents resolutions to shareholders urging companies to support reproductive rights, says they include creating a travel fund that temporary workers and contractors could use, suspending political donations to politicians anti-abortion and calling on legislators to oppose anti-abortion policies. “Big companies are like sleeping giants in this regard,” says Alpern.

Other options for corporations looking to make a difference include donations to local abortion funds in places where they do business or have employees, says Lisa Fuentes, senior fellow at the Guttmacher Institute. “These are pretty low-hanging fruits, and they are sorely needed,” says Fuentes. She says tech companies could work with the National Abortion Funds Network, which allows donors to allocate funds to specific communities, and groups like the Brigid Alliance, which organizes and funds abortion care and travel for those in need.

Some longtime tech company employees have pressured their bosses to take some of these steps to support access to abortion. Washington Post reported last month that Amazon, Microsoft and Google workers have circulated petitions and internal messages calling on their companies to commit to protecting the privacy of users seeking abortions.

In a statement urging Alphabet to extend abortion benefits to TV people, AWU’s Cole said the company should also stop donating to anti-abortion politicians and put in place privacy protocols to protect Google users seeking abortion access information. “History has proven that the Supreme Court ruling will not stop abortion, it will only stop safe abortions,” she wrote. “Google can do more to ensure that all workers and users have the information and resources they need to safely access reproductive health services.”

A day after AWU went public with its statement, Google announced its privacy updates, which include removing visits to abortion clinics from users’ location history. Software engineer and executive board member Ashok Chandwani acknowledged the changes but reiterated that the company needs to go further in protecting user and worker privacy and expand access to abortion for all of its employees. “Our organization will continue,” he wrote.

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