Forty employees of YouTube Music went on strike on Friday. The striking Cognizant employees, who are employed by Alphabet as a subcontractor, claim that management at both firms has used unfair labour tactics to thwart their union effort.

Sam Regan, general manager of YouTube Music, said at a walkout in Austin, Texas, which was streamed live on Facebook, “Right now, the vast majority of our department is ready to vote yes in a [National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)] election.” “Our employer is requiring an end to remote work before the vote as retaliation against our organising efforts, which would significantly interfere with the fair voting conditions required by federal law,” the employee said.

On Monday, the content operations staff for YouTube Music is anticipated to return to the Austin office. However, the bulk of employees were employed remotely, and over a quarter are not even situated in Texas, claims the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU). According to Cognizant, these positions were always meant to be permanent.

The AWU stated in a press statement that “workers are paid as low as $19 dollars an hour and, as a result, cannot afford the relocation, travel, or childcare costs involved with in-person work.”

The AWU, which is a part of the Communications Workers of America, filed an unfair labour practise complaint with the NLRB on January 23. Employers are prohibited by national law from interfering with employee organisation or retaliating against employees for taking part in such initiatives.

The business stated in an email that it respected the right of its employees to object to its policies and to do so legally. But it is sad that some of our employees have decided to walk out in protest of a return-to-work policy that has been regularly explained to them since December 2021.

Even though the business cut 12,000 employees, or 6% of its global workforce, two weeks ago, Alphabet reported on Thursday that it had made $13.6 billion in profit for the quarter. About 50 workers demonstrated against the recent layoffs outside a local Google store as Alphabet announced its results.

On February 1, a group of “search raters,” or Google employees who train, test, and assess search algorithms, staged a protest at the company’s headquarters. All of Alphabet’s extended workforce members in the United States are expected to be paid $15 per hour or more, in addition to other perks like healthcare, tax-free education reimbursement, and employee assistance programmes. However, according to search raters, they “receive poverty pay with no benefits.” At Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, the group handed senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan a petition urging management to include these employees in Alphabet’s expanded workforce.

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