Big tech’s abortion travel policies do nothing for its contractor workforce

by mcdix

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling has overnight turned many states where access to abortion was prohibitive to states where it is now de facto illegal. Congressional Democrats have wasted nearly 50 years of opportunities to bolster the right to bodily autonomy. In the wake of a post-Roe nation, major corporations have attempted some form of triage. Still, their solutions, particularly at technology companies, often exclude most of their workforce.

Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have all recently announced or reiterated policies for employees that would cover or offset the cost of traveling abroad to seek medical care, including abortions. While, as Vox’s Emily Stewart rightly points out, no one should have to choose between a forced pregnancy or reporting an abortion to their employer’s HR department, the situation is considerably grimmer for the hordes of contractors who keep the same companies afloat and don’t have them. have the same options.

What is at stake here is a huge number of workers. In many cases, these companies have much more than the number of full-timers on the payroll. (The full-time staff, meanwhile, are not allowed to talk about abortion-related issues at work.) the most recent estimate, in 2020, for content moderators on Facebook was 15,000 — a number that likely doesn’t include moderators on Meta’s other social platforms and almost certainly excludes temporary workers in the company’s many offices and data centers.

Amazon has boasted of creating 158,000 outsourced roles for its network of delivery service providers. Again, this doesn’t include drivers contracted through Amazon’s internal Flex program, data center, and office support workers or those who perform maintenance in the company’s more than 1,100 warehouses. The alphabet was the subject of critical reporting in 2018, where it was revealed that most tech giant employees were not. The number of agency workers, salespeople, or contractors (TVCs in the company language) is not made public but is estimated to be approximately 150,000.


The balance is even more skewed for “gig” companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. Based on the roughly 30,000 employees, estimates of the number of contractor drivers working for Uber range from 3.9 million to five million, of which about one million are in the US. The most quoted claim is that Lyft has about 1.4 million drivers in the US and Toronto, though the source of that figure is nearly five years old and will likely be much larger now. DoorDash’s 6,000 employees are dwarfed by a claimed fleet of two million couriers.

It is also highly likely (although unclear at this point) that this policy will not apply to part-time workers, as these travel benefits appear to be administered through employer-provided healthcare, which part-time workers are typically not eligible for. For this reason, it is also unclear whether these companies had any input in creating these reimbursement programs or whether the credit belongs to their respective health insurers. Meta, Amazon, Alphabet, and Uber did not respond to requests for comment, while Lyft and DoorDash declined to answer specific questions and circulated existing statements to the press.

A Meta spokesperson told Engadget: “We plan to offer travel reimbursements, to the extent permitted by law, for employees who need them to access out-of-state health care and reproductive services. Given the legal complexities, we have no choice but to do so.” that’s involved.” “It is paramount that all DoorDash employees and their families covered by our health plans have fair and timely access to safe health care,” a spokesperson told Engadget. Traveling out of state for abortion-related care.”

“Lyft’s US medical benefits plan includes coverage for elective abortion and reimbursement of travel expenses if an employee has to travel more than 100 miles for a network provider,” wrote Kristin Sverchek, Lyft President of Business Affairs, in a blog post published June 24. When asked if the company is doing anything for its driver fleet, a spokesperson pointed to a section of the same blog post where Sverchek wrote that the company “is working with [Planned Parenthood] to test a Women’s Transportation Access program.” Lyft would not comment on who the program would cover, what access it would provide, what funding it had, where it would operate, or when it was expected to launch. No recent mentions of Lyft or the phrase “Women’s Transportation Access” appear anywhere in Planned Parenthood’s press releases, and the organization has not responded to a request at the time of publication.

The hollowness of these gestures toward abortion has not escaped some workers’ attention. The Alphabet Workers Union, a Communications Workers of America subgroup, released a statement yesterday criticizing their eponymous company for failing to extend this new policy to temporary workers. Google announced that full-time workers would have access to relocation services after the destruction of Roe v. Wade. What this does not meet are the needs of Alphabet’s hundreds of thousands of temps, suppliers, and contract workers, who are more likely to live in states with limited access to abortion, more likely to be workers of color,” wrote Parul Koul, an AGU member and software engineer at Google.

What has been widely heard in recent decades about the Republican project to restrict access to abortion is that new barriers — closing clinics, introducing pregnancy bans, and now overthrowing or — will not prevent abortions from being performed; they only make safe abortions more difficult to obtain. Current projections show that the number of abortions is likely to fall by only about 14 percent. It is almost certain that the bulk of the burden of forced pregnancy will fall on those economically disadvantaged: those without stable work, good wages, employer-sponsored health care, or the time and savings to leave work for an out-of-state abortion.

Technology companies can’t promise to build for the future while many of their workforces is stuck in 1972. In many cases, the situation described here exactly overlaps with the circumstances of contractors that this new compensation policy implicitly excludes. It complicates these companies in the dual access that Republicans have largely managed to achieve. Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products recommeEngadget recommendsof our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.

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