Google’s Refusal To Bargain With YouTube Music Workers Breaks Labor Laws

Google’s Refusal To Bargain With YouTube Music Workers Breaks Labor Laws

News by Vianca Meyer
Published: January 05, 2024

In a landmark decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., acted unlawfully by refusing to negotiate with a union representing contract workers for YouTube Music.

This ruling marks a significant development in the ongoing struggles between large tech companies and labor unions.

The NLRB rejected Google's argument that it should not be considered the employer of workers supplied by staffing firm Cognizant Technology Solutions.

This decision aligns with a broader trend of increased scrutiny over labor practices in the tech industry, recalling a similar case involving Amazon last year.

Unionization Efforts and Google's Response

In April, a unanimous vote by YouTube Music content operation workers to join the Alphabet Workers Union signaled a rising tide of unionization within the tech sector.

Despite the union's formation, Google has resisted bargaining, leading to the recent NLRB ruling.

"As we've said before, we have no objection to these Cognizant employees selecting to form a union. We simply believe it's only appropriate for Cognizant, as their employer, to engage in collective bargaining," stated Google, indicating their plan to appeal the ruling in federal court.

Katie-Marie Marschner, a YouTube Music worker and union member, expressed frustration at the tech giant's tactics: "Any future appeals by Alphabet are just an attempt to avoid collectively bargaining with the union and pad the pockets of shareholders and executives."

Echoes of Amazon's Anti-Union Efforts

This situation is reminiscent of a case from last year involving Amazon.

The NLRB judged that Amazon had violated federal labor laws in its anti-union efforts at two New York City facilities.

This judgment has set a precedent that could influence future labor disputes in the tech industry.

"We need a house cleaning of anti-union board decisions that have been around since the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Act," said Amazon Labor Union's lawyer, Seth Goldstein, reflecting on the need for systemic changes in labor law enforcement.

Implications for the Future of Labor in Tech

The NLRB's recent rulings against Google and Amazon highlight a shifting landscape in the tech industry, where labor laws and unionization efforts are becoming increasingly prominent.

As the industry faces growing scrutiny, the outcomes of these legal battles will likely have far-reaching implications for the relationship between large tech companies and their workforce, particularly contract workers, who have historically had fewer protections and bargaining power.

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