The Supreme Court's ruling last week has made it much easier to get an abortion in some states. In the wake of a post-Roe nation, large companies have been attempting to perform some form of triage, but their solutions often exclude the overwhelming majority of their workforce.
The policies for employees that would cover or offset the cost of traveling out of state to seek medical services, including abortions, have recently been announced by several companies. While, as Emily Stewart points out, no one should have to choose between a forced pregnancy or an abortion, the situation is more dire for contractors who have not been afforded the same.
A lot of workers are at stake. More than the number of full-timers are on these companies' payrolls. In 2020 the most recent estimate was 15,000, which excludes contingent workers at the company's offices and data centers. Full-time staff are not allowed to discuss abortion-related issues at work.
158,000 roles have been created for Amazon's delivery service providers. Drivers contracted through its internal Amazon Flex program, data center and office support workers, and those handling maintenance at the company's over 1,100 warehouses are not included. The majority of workers at the tech giant were not employees according to a critical report. The number of temporary workers is not publicly reported, but is estimated to be around 150,000.
The balance is more skewed for gig companies. Estimates on the number of contractors working for the company range from three million to five million, with a million of them in the US. The source of the figure of over one million drivers in the US and Toronto is almost five years old, and is likely to be much larger now. DoorDash has 6,000 employees, compared to a fleet of two million.
Since these travel reimbursements appear to be administered through employer-supplied healthcare, it's likely that they will be inapplicable to part-time employees. It's not clear if these companies had any input into the creation of these reimbursement programs or if the credit belongs to their health insurance providers. Lyft and DoorDash declined to answer specific questions and passed along their existing statements to the media.
"We intend to offer travel expense reimbursements, to the extent permitted by law, for employees who will need them to access out of state health care and reproductive services." Given the legal complexity involved, we are trying to find the best way to do it.
All DoorDash employees and their dependents have equitable, timely access to safe healthcare according to a spokesman for the company. Employees who need to travel out of state for abortion-related care will be covered by DoorDash.
If an employee must travel more than 100 miles for an in-network provider, they will be covered for abortion and travel costs. When asked if the company is doing anything for its drivers, a spokesman pointed to a post on the company's website in which Sverchek wrote that the company is partnering with a women's transportation access program. The organization did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication, and there was no mention of the phrase " Women's Transportation Access" in any of the releases. What access it would provide, where it would operate, and when it is projected to launch were not disclosed.
The hollowness of these gestures has not been lost on some workers. The Communications Workers of America's sub-group of the Alphabet Workers Union criticized the company for not extending the new policies to contingent workers. There will be access to relocation services for full-time employees following the overturn of the abortion law. The needs of hundreds of thousands of Alphabet temps, vendors and contract workers, who are more likely to be living in states with restricted abortion access, are not addressed in this proposal.
Over the past several decades of the Republican project to restrict abortion access, it has been said that new barriers won't stop abortions from being carried out, they just make abortions harder to get. According to current projections, the number of abortions is unlikely to go up. Those without stable work, good pay, employer-sponsored healthcare or the time and savings to take off from work to seek an out of state abortion will most likely be the ones who suffer from forced pregnancies. In many cases, the situation described here overlaps precisely with the circumstances of contractors, and in a sense it makes these companies complicit in the two-tiered access Republicans have largely succeeded in making a reality. Tech companies can't promise to build the future while many of their workers are trapped in 1972