YouTube Music employees strike over unfair labor practices

Dozens of third-party employees at YouTube Music, hired by Alphabet sub-contractor tech services company Cognizant, have gone on strike over alleged unfair labor practices.
YouTube Music
40 striking workers alleged that both companies’ management have leveraged unfair labor practices to get in the way of their union drive, according to a report in The Verge.

They alleged that the vast majority of them are ready to vote yes in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election.

“In an act of retaliation, our employer is forcing an end to remote work before the vote, which would dramatically interfere with the fair voting conditions mandated by federal law,” said YouTube Music generalist Sam Regan at a strike in Austin, Texas.

“Cognizant respects the right of our associates to disagree with our policies, and to protest them lawfully. However, it is disappointing that some of our associates have chosen to strike over a return to office policy that has been communicated to them repeatedly since December 2021,” Cognizant said.

“Associates working on this project accepted their employment with the understanding that they were accepting in-office positions, and that the team would work together at a physical location based in Austin,” Cognizant said in a news statement.

YouTube Music’s content operations team is expected to return to the Austin office early next week.

However, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) said the majority of workers were hired remotely.

“Workers are paid as little as $19 dollars an hour and thus, cannot afford the relocation, travel or childcare costs associated with in person work,” the AWU said in a statement.

The AWU had filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB.

Alphabet recently laid off 12,000 employees, or 6 percent of its global workforce.

Google employees also staged protests in the US this week to call attention to labor conditions for sub-contracted workers and to support thousands of their recently laid-off co-workers.

Nearly 50 Google employees also protested outside a Ninth Avenue store in New York shortly after parent company Alphabet announced fourth-quarter profits of $13.6 billion.

Alphabet said its Q4 revenue from Google advertising, which includes Search and YouTube, fell 3.6 percent to $59.04 billion. Revenue from YouTube ads, one of Alphabet’s most consistent money-makers, fell nearly 8 percent to $7.96 billion.

Image source: Photo by Richard Clyborne of Music Strive

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