YouTube Music Contractors Win Major Union Battle Against Alphabet

YouTube Music Contractors Win Major Union Battle Against Alphabet

Photo Credit: Alexander Shatov

YouTube Music contractors have unionized with the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced the YouTube Music Content Operations Team overwhelmingly won their election for a union—with 83% of the unit of 49 workers participating. These workers are subcontracted by Alphabet via Cognizant. They’re responsible for ensuring music content is available and approved for YouTube Music’s 80 million subscribers across the globe. 

In March 2023, the NLRB ruled that Google employees these workers, even if they are subcontracted through another organization. Google is currently challenging the ruling, but if it holds, these YouTube Music workers are the first officially recognized union of tech workers at the search giant. Workers went on strike in February alleging unfair labor practices and efforts to interfere with union organization. 

“My co-workers 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,” says Maxwell Longfield, YouTube Music contract worker with Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA. “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 co-workers and flexing their power on the job.”

Workers filed for their union election in October 2022. Following that organization, Cognizant announced its RTO mandate which would have forced workers to ‘voluntarily terminate’ from their jobs. A majority of these workers were hired remotely and more than a quarter are not based in Texas. Currently, 15 workers remain on strike.

Alphabet exercises control over these YouTube Music contractors, including on things like everyday work tasks, performance evaluations, and more. Workers are confident that the NLRB ruling will be upheld and Alphabet and Cognizant will be brought to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract for these workers.