YouTube Music workers go on strike after being told to return to the office.
A group of more than 40 workers at YouTube Music’s content operations has gone on strike after being told they must return to the office. The workers are subcontractors for the music service through a company called Cognizant, whose jobs are to “ensure music content is available and approved” for the platform.
The Alphabet Workers Union announced the strike on Friday, stating that “a majority of workers were hired remotely, and the upcoming return to office date threatens the livelihoods of workers who do not live in the Austin area.”
Workers are demanding a return-to-work policy that’s “fair, flexible, and does not threaten the safety and livelihoods of workers.” Many objections to returning to the office stem from pay and availability. The contractors are reportedly paid as little as $19 an hour, making it difficult to afford the relocation and associated travel or childcare costs they may have yet to contend with while working remotely.
A spokesperson for Cognizant says that the return to office policy had been “communicated to (the workers) repeatedly since December 2021” and that they took the positions “with the understanding that they were accepting in-office positions, and that the team would work together at a physical location based in Austin.”
Google has not provided an official statement but has told the National Labor Relations Board that it does not see the workers as its employees. The subcontractors filed for union recognition with the National Labor Relations Board in October.
In 2022, a group of Cognizant contractors working on Google Maps successfully pushed back their return-to-office mandate after threatening to strike. In 2018, thousands of Google employees walked out to protest when the company reportedly paid Android co-founder Andy Rubin $90 million in severance after he was accused of sexual assault.