Hey everyone! I’m Nuked and I’m here to talk about the current strike of over 40 contractors for YouTube Music.
The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) says this is the first strike of its kind at Google. The contractors are taking a stand against an order to return to in-person work next week, something many of them feel they cannot do. They’re asking for a return-to-work policy that’s “fair, flexible, and does not threaten the safety and livelihoods of workers”.
The contractors are part of the YouTube Music Content Operations team via Cognizant, a subcontractor for Alphabet, Google and YouTube’s parent company. Their job is to “ensure music content is available and approved” for the platform.
The workers are objecting to the return to office plan due to pay and availability. According to the AWU, they get paid as little as $19 an hour, making it hard to cover relocation, travel or childcare costs that they didn’t have to worry about when working remotely. A spokesperson for Cognizant said they took the positions “with the understanding that they were accepting in-office positions”.
Google has told the National Labor Relations Board that it does not consider the contractors employees. The AWU filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in October to unionize them and last week filed an unfair labor practice charge against Alphabet and Cognizant, saying the return to office plan was interfering with fair voting conditions.
This isn’t the first time workers at Google have organized labor actions. In 2018, tens of thousands of people walked out in response to how Google handled sexual harassment allegations against Android co-founder Andy Rubin. And in 2022, a group of Cognizant contractors working on Google Maps were able to get their return-to-office plan pushed back after threatening to strike.