More than 200 Alphabet employees have signed a petition from Google childcare workers asking for a commute stipend. The petition calls for workers to be given an extra $1,500 per month to help pay for ride-shares, car rentals, or other transportation costs.
Google is asking childcare workers and educators to return to in-person work on Monday, May 10th, while the company’s shuttle service remains suspended. Some make as little as $25 an hour.
“Transportation isn’t just a nice-to-have for us, it’s fundamental if we want to do our job,” said Denise Belardes, a childcare worker, in a press release. “We’re not the ones making hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. We do not have the option to work from home as other Googlers. We need this stipend.”
Google maintains four childcare centers in the Bay Area, where workers help educate and care for the children of Google and Alphabet employees. Many of the workers employed there don’t live close to the office due to the prohibitively high cost of housing, so transportation is a particularly vital issue.
During the pandemic, the workers began meeting with children over Google Meet, which made the transportation stipend unnecessary. But now, as Google starts to slowly bring employees back to the office, they’re being asked to return to in-person work.
In the petition, workers say Google did not respond well to the initial request. “When workers raised this issue, the corporate response was ‘transportation is just a perk, not a benefit,’” they wrote. “Shifting this cost to essential workers, who earn far less than the Googlers whose children they care for, is unacceptable. Google must do better.”
The petition, which is addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai as well as other executives, is backed by the Alphabet Workers Union. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said: “We welcome feedback and will continue to work with any educator who has concerns as we start to reopen and return regular services.”
Update May 10th, 1:30PM ET: This article has been updated with a statement from Google.