- Drivers of self-driving Waymo cars in the Phoenix suburbs have seen their benefits cut since shifting to working for the company as “vendors” instead of “contractors,” drivers told The Verge.
- They said vacation days went from 25 unpaid to five paid and five unpaid, according to the report.
- Drivers also complained about health benefits and ongoing safety concerns while driving the autonomous vehicles.
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Workers who drive Waymo autonomous vehicles in the Phoenix suburbs said that a shift in the way they’re employed – going from contractors to vendors at a third-party company – led to cuts in benefits that make them feel like “second class” compared to full-time Waymo employees, according to a new report by The Verge.
Drivers told The Verge’s Colin Lecher and Andrew Hawkins that after becoming vendors through a third-party company, Transdev, rather than contractors, benefits like vacation time and health insurance declined.
Vacation time decreased from 25 unpaid days to five paid and five unpaid, according to the report. Workers also said that health insurance remains poor; one worker called it “literally the worst benefits I have ever had in my life for a full-time job.”
While they complained about benefits, the transition also removed the need to take a six-month break every two years as required by labour law, the report said.
Waymo, an autonomous driving spin-off from Google that is now part of Google’s parent company Alphabet, operates autonomous ride-hailing in Chandler, Arizona, near Phoenix, with drivers to operate and provide back-up for the self-driving vans when intervention is necessary.
A Waymo spokesperson told Business Insider that through Transdev, vehicle operators are provided “competitive compensation, health and vacation benefits, 401k options, and long-term employment and growth opportunities.” Transdev did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Drivers also complained that ongoing safety issues have not been addressed effectively by the company, The Verge reports. Among those concerns are residents of the Phoenix suburbs who are reportedly upset and sometimes aggressive toward cars and their drivers, as well as things left behind in cars, like needles.
Waymo said in a statement to Business Insider that there have been very few instances of needles found in cars, and that after the first time needles were found, Waymo and Transdev immediately established safety protocols and trained drivers on how to deal with hazardous materials. It also said that drivers are not expected to have to make physical contact with potentially hazardous materials.
In light of the drivers’ concerns over unruly passengers or aggressive people outside of the vehicles, Waymo said it provides drivers with a button in the vehicle to reach Waymo dispatch, and is working on creating scenario-based trainings for employees.
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