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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

In Solidarity with First Ever Google Strike AWU-CWA Holds Actions in Austin & NYC as Workers Rally Against Google Union-Busting

21 Feb, 2023

Sen. Bernie Sanders & Rep. Greg Casar Send Letter Demanding Google, YouTube and Cognizant CEOs to Stop Union-Busting


On Tuesday, February 21, 2023 Google workers and members of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA (AWU-CWA), the only wall-to-wall union at Google, held rallies against Google union-busting in Austin, Texas and New York City. Additionally, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Greg Casar (TX-35) have sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, YouTube CEO Neal Mohan and Cognizant Technology Solutions CEO Ravi Kumar calling on the executives to end the retaliation against workers organizing at YouTube Music. A majority of YouTube Music workers, contracted with Cognizant Technology Solutions, have been on an Unfair Labor Practice strike since February 3, 2023 in response to an illegal return-to-work (RTO) mandate. This is the first strike in Google history. 


In Austin, Texas, at 10:30AM EST/9:30AM CST, dozens of YouTube Music workers and allies held a rally against Google union-busting at the Google office in downtown Austin, Texas. Workers marched from Austin City Hall to the Google office in Austin and were joined by Representative Greg Casar of Texas's 35th Congressional District.


“We are standing here today, with the support of elected officials like Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressmen Greg Casar, to demand that Google, Youtube and Cognizant stop their union-busting. The return-to-office mandate is nothing more than a ploy to force organized workers to give up their jobs simply because after being hired remotely, we do not live close enough to show up for in person work or cannot afford the travel, childcare and other expenses related to in person work. Google's own Supplier Code of Conduct  requires contractors to allow workers to organize without fear of reprisal or harassment. It is time for Google to uphold its own standards and end the return-to-office mandate,” said Sam Regan, YouTube Music contract worker with Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA. 


On Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 12 PM EST/11AM CST dozens of Google workers and allies held a solidarity rally against Google union-busting at the 9th Avenue Google Store in support of the striking YouTube Music Workers. Striking YouTube Music workers flew in from Texas to join their colleagues from across Alphabet, the Google parent company, in New York. 


“I’m a software engineer at Google, and I believe that what the Youtube Music workers are doing is not just important, it’s revolutionary. We all have a right to organize free from retaliation. Google, YouTube and Cognizant must end their return-to-office mandate, which jeopardizes the livelihoods of dozens of workers at YouTube Music. Last month, when Google chose to layoff 12,000 of our coworkers, it became clear that we must organize, whether contract workers or full time employees, because everyone deserves the power to decide how they are treated in the workplace,” said Pazia Bermudez-Silverman, Google software engineer and member of AWU-CWA.


YouTube Music workers have received conflicting reports regarding who initiated the return-to-work order and are calling on Google to honor its commitments to workers and rebuke the retaliatory RTO mandate. Google’s own Supplier Code of Conduct  requires its contractors to allow workers to organize without fear of reprisal or harassment. However, instead of honoring workers’ right to a free and fair union election, Google and Cognizant have mandated that workers return to the office, even though this means dozens of workers will have to quit their job because they live across state lines or need the flexibility of at home work to maintain their other jobs or fill their responsibilities as caregivers. 


“I flew in today because Google has the power to end the retaliation we are facing as YouTube Music workers. Everyday, I log into my Cognizant time clock, and that is the last thing I do for Cognizant. The rest of my day is spent on Google products, using Google’s own interfaces to complete my work for Google and YouTube. If you work on a Google product, you should not be dealing with union-busting. By forcing workers to RTO, Google and Cognizant are effectively forcing dozens of workers to quit their jobs because they either live across state lines or are not paid enough to afford the associated expenses with in-person work, like gas and childcare costs. It’s time for Google to hold itself and its contractors to its own standards and end the RTO mandate,” said Maxwell Longfield, YouTube Music contract worker with Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA.


In a shared letter published today, Senator Bernie Sanders & Representative Greg Casar called on Google, YouTube and Cognizant CEOs to end their union-busting:


“We worry that Cognizant suddenly imposed these impossible (RTO) requirements on these workers in response to them exercising their right to organize a union. Many of these workers, who make as little as $19 an hour, say they cannot afford the cost of relocating, the increased cost-of-living for the Austin area, and paying for child care on the current wages provided by your multi-billion- dollar company. When these workers went out on strike to protest against this reported anti-union retaliation, instead of reversing course, recognizing the union, and bargaining in good faith over “return-to- work” and other policies, Cognizant doubled down and has reportedly offshored this work to workers in India. Mr. Pichai: your $60 billion in profits last year enables you to not only treat your workers fairly, but also recognize the invaluable contributions YouTube Music workers bring to your company and our community. Our request to you is simple: Ensure that all Google workers, including YouTube Music workers, are able to freely exercise their right to join a union as guaranteed by federal law. We look forward to your prompt response as we continue to monitor this situation closely.”


Workers will continue to organize and maintain their strike until demands are met and are accepting donations to maintain their strike fund


Workers are awaiting a critical ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding their union election. When workers filed for recognition with the NLRB, both YouTube Music Content Operations and Alphabet, were listed as joint employers on the filing. The NLRB Regional Director’s agent presided over a pre-election hearing from November 29, 2022 to December 5, 2022, hearing evidence regarding joint employer status. Workers are confident in the overwhelming evidence presented that proves Alphabet has direct involvement in working conditions and should be at the negotiating table alongside Cognizant Technology Solutions.




Alphabet Workers Union - CWA unites full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors at Google and other Alphabet companies in the United States and Canada in collective action to ensure that our workplace is equitable and that Alphabet acts ethically. We are members of Communications Workers of America Local 1400 and currently represent over 1,300 workers across Alphabet. Learn more at or follow us at @AlphabetWorkers.




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