The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, should be considered a joint employer for a group of YouTube Music contractors. The workers are currently trying to organize with the Alphabet Worker’s Union, and the NLRB’s decision could mean the tech giant has to negotiate with them if they vote to join a union in an upcoming election.
The employees are employed directly by a company called Cognizant, which acts as an Alphabet subcontractor. However, the NLRB believes that Google has enough control over their “benefits, hours, oversight, and direction of work” that it counts as a partial employer, according to Bloomberg.
“We are proud to achieve a precedent-setting victory not only for ourselves, but for employees across the country,” said Sam Regan, union organizer and YouTube Music contractor, who was quoted in an AWU press release. “Tech companies in particular have devised new ways to deny responsibility for their employees’ livelihoods through subcontracting, DIY work and other poor labor practices.”
Alphabet, for its part, intends to appeal the NLRB’s decision. “We simply have no control over the terms of employment or working conditions of these workers,” spokesman Courtenay Mencini said Bloomberg.
In addition to the unions’ push and struggle to get Alphabet recognized as a joint employer, the contractors went on strike in February to protest the return to office orders — the company’s first strike, according to the AWU. The dates for the union elections have not yet been publicly announced.