YouTube Music Workers Celebrate Blowout Victory in Historic AWU-CWA Union Election
(Austin, Texas)—Today the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that in a 41-0 vote the YouTube Music Content Operations Team, who are subcontracted by Alphabet via Cognizant, have overwhelmingly won their election for a union, after a many month campaign that dealt with a continuous union-busting effort from management. A total of 84% of the unit voted in the election. The unit, which includes 49 workers, is represented by Alphabet Workers Union-CWA and is the union’s second unit election victory since its launch in January 2021.
As members of the YouTube Music Content Operations team, workers are responsible for ensuring music content is available and approved for YouTube Music’s 80 million subscribers worldwide. Even as workers contribute to the success of the YouTube platform, valued at over $180 billion dollars, workers are paid as little as $19 dollars an hour and receive minimal benefits. Many workers are forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
“My coworkers and I have spoken, time and time again—we want, and have won, a protected voice on the job to bring both Alphabet and Cognizant to the negotiating table so that we can win the fair working conditions we deserve. No one working for a multi-billion dollar platform should have to juggle three jobs to make ends meet, and no one should have to give up their livelihoods due to a retaliatory Return-To-Office mandate. We have shown our power as workers on the picket line, and now in our union election. Today’s victory sets us on our path to earn our fair share and we hope other tech workers join us by standing shoulder to shoulder with their coworkers and flexing their power on the job,” said Maxwell Longfield, YouTube Music contract worker with Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA.
In an attempt to improve working conditions and pay, workers filed for their union election in October 2022. In response to workers exercising their right to organize, Cognizant announced a retaliatory Return-To-Office (RTO) mandate which would have forced dozens of workers to “voluntarily terminate” from their jobs. Due to their low wages, workers cannot afford the relocation, travel or childcare costs associated with in person work. A majority of workers were hired remotely and nearly a quarter of workers are not based in Texas. Alphabet Workers Union-CWA filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against Alphabet and Cognizant on Tuesday, January 23, 2023. The charge detailed how the RTO mandate was an attempt to derail the upcoming union election. In order to protect the jobs of workers who could not RTO, workers began AWU-CWA’s first strike, and the first known strike at Google. Currently, 15 workers remain on strike as it is the only way to protect their jobs from termination.
“It is incredibly inspiring to see our members not only build the power necessary to withstand an ongoing union-busting campaign, but to also win their union election in a blowout victory. Alphabet continues to try and skirt its responsibility to its workers by distancing itself from contract workers who provide essential services to the company. Now, workers may finally have the leverage needed to bring Alphabet to the negotiating table, and raise standards for all tech workers across the industry, ” said Parul Koul, Google Software Engineer, Alphabet Workers Union-CWA member and President of CWA Local 9009.
Alphabet exercises control, directly and indirectly, over YouTube Music employees, including on things like everyday work tasks, performance evaluations and more. Thus, workers listed both Alphabet and Cognizant as joint employers in their union filing. On March 3, 2023 the NLRB ruled that Alphabet and Cognizant must both negotiate with workers on their union contract if workers win their NLRB election. Alphabet has since filed an appeal to this decision, but workers are confident that the initial ruling will be upheld. Alphabet Workers Union-CWA will next proceed to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract.
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 alphabetworkersunion.org or follow us at @AlphabetWorkers.
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