More than 40 YouTube Music contractors go on strike – a first at Google, This is reported by the Alphabet Workers Union (or AWU). The action is in response to an order to return to personal work next week, something many of the employees say they cannot do. They demand a return policy that is “fair, flexible and poses no threat to workers’ safety and livelihoods,” according to an AWU press release.
The workers are part of the YouTube Music Content Operations team through Cognizant, a subcontractor of Alphabet, Google and YouTube’s parent company. Their job is to “ensure that music content is available and approved” for the platform, according to one prior press release from the AWU.
The objections to the return to office plan stem from pay and availability. According to the AWU, contractors are only paid $19 an hour, making it difficult to afford the relocation, travel, or childcare costs they wouldn’t have had to pay when they worked remotely, rather than at an Austin, TX, office. .
An unnamed Cognizant spokesperson told engaged that the return to office policy had been “communicated [the workers] repeatedly since December 2021,” and that they had taken the positions “under the understanding that they accepted internal positions and that the team would work together at a physical location in Austin.” Google wouldn’t comment on the record on this story, but the company has told the National Labor Relations Board that it doesn’t see the workers as its employees, according to Bloomberg.
The contractors are currently seeking to form a union with the AWU, which in October petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to represent the contractors. Last week, the AWU filed an unfair labor practice suit against Alphabet and Cognizant, alleging that the return to office was used to “interfere with the fair voting conditions mandated by federal law,” as Sam Regan, one of the workers, put it. in a press release.
There have been previous organized labor actions at Google. In 2018, tens of thousands of employees walked out to protest Google’s handling of sexual harassment, spurred by reports that the company paid Android co-founder Andy Rubin $90 million resigned after being accused of sexual assault. And in 2022, a group of Cognizant contractors working on Google Maps was able to push back their return to the office after threatens to strike.