back to article YouTube workers laid off mid-plea at city hall meeting

The moment 43 unionized YouTube Music subcontractors lost their jobs was dramatically caught on camera during an Austin City Hall meeting in Texas last week. Ironically, the purpose of the meeting was to vote on a resolution brought by members of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA for the city council to urge Google and Cognizant …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do no........... Oh, something.

    1. PM.

      I will help you

      It was "do know evil" or some such...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I will help you

        Very good

  2. elDog

    Good that this was being actively aired. Shame on Google, Alphabet, Cognizant

    Corporautocracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

      These were CONTRACTORS, not employees. Contractors do not get sick or vacation pay.

      And these Google contractors were not laid off, their contract expired on that day.

      Also on the day and time that these contractors were at the city hall meeting they were deliberately skipping an online meeting with Cognizant on their contract status. They knew their contracts terminated that day. It's not rocket surgery to predict that when the contractors unionized in defiance of Google (who refused to recognize the union) that none of their contracts would be extended.

      This was clueless behavior because these contractors had zero leverage with Google or Cognizant. If they thought they could shame Google/Cognizant into negotiating then they were naive on a massive scale.

      1. Catkin Silver badge

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        Did they choose to be contractors (exchanging more money for less benefits) or was it their only option?

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          Dunno.

          Can you answer the question - were they originally employed by Google and transferred to Cognizant or did they apply to Cognizant?

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          "Did they choose to be contractors (exchanging more money for less benefits) or was it their only option?"

          There's always another option.

        3. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          If they wanted to work FOR GOOGLE that might have been their only option. But with unemployment below 4% for over two years in the US, they would not have a hard time finding some other job.

          I hate the dodges that companies like Uber to making everyone an "independent contractor" but Google hiring contractors specifically for a role and a given term is not that. I have worked as an independent consultant for years, and I never was contracted directly by the company I was "working" for, there was always at least one (and sometimes more than one) middleman for various reasons too lengthy to go into here.

          The Google/Cognizent thing is no different than the type of relationship I had. Typically my contracts would be for 3 to 6 months, though sometimes they would be extended. Sometimes they would not. Having a contract not being renewed is not being "fired" in any sense.

          They are apparently getting seven weeks while the company seeks to find another role, with full pay during that time. They won't actually get "fired" unless that seven weeks runs out.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          "Did they choose to be contractors (exchanging more money for less benefits) or was it their only option?"

          If the article and video is to be believed, they were on $19/Hr, so I doubt that was a pay increase/benefit loss as contractors over employees.

          And likewise, they already won court cases where Google was declared a joint employer due to the level of control Google had over the employees day to day activities.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        Contractors do not get sick or vacation pay.

        So what? Neither do many salaried employees in the US and salaried employment is at will too unless you live in Montana.

        1. Catkin Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          The difference being that a contractor has no reasonable expectation of these things more or less anywhere (please do correct me if you are aware of significant exceptions). Contractors (by choice, in contrast to gig workers forced to be classified as contractors) tend to throw a wobbly when you bring up employment rights because that tends to lead to less money in their pocket.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

            Contractors can have fixed length contracts in the UK and employees can have fixed term employment contracts.

            But I let myself get carried away by the AC. Of course they're not contractors, they're employees paid by Cognizant. Not that it makes any practical difference in the US of course (unless you're in Montana).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        [...] which held strikes the following month over the return-to-office mandate and again the following September over the lack of engagement from their employers.

        Employers suddenly remembering why they wanted to offshore all the jobs in the first place. If your employer wants you to work from an office, you either do it, or you get another job. Or you be a whiny, entitled bitch about it and get the sack. Seems fair.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          "Employers suddenly remembering why they wanted to offshore all the jobs in the first place. If your employer wants you to work from an office, you either do it, or you get another job. Or you be a whiny, entitled bitch about it and get the sack. Seems fair."

          This would be the same employers who took "advantage" of work from home to employ people from a much wider catchment area, vastly increasing the competition for jobs and almost certainly in many cases depressing the salary levels at the same time, and now want those remote workers to commute 100's or even 1000's of miles to "the office". For those employees took on during covid when WFH was "here to stay", there is no "return" to the office. They never were based there. It's a considerable and significant change to their contract of employment which they are being forced to accept. In the UK and EU, that would be grounds for a "constructive dismissal" case, ie unrealistic and unreasonable contract changes.

          Much of the above may or may not apply in this case, but it's part of the pattern, which is especially common under US employment laws where there is little to no protection on either side, but certainly far less so for the worker. The lack of protection, unfair employment contracts and "at will" is probably not great for small employers too since a worker can just walk out at any time and might be hard to replace to short notice.

      4. EricM

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        As I understand the piece, they were regular Cognizant employees.

        So while Google dealt with "contractors" from Cognizant, they in fact were regualr employees there.

        So they should have got standard sick/vacation pay from Cognizant, notice period, etc.

        1. Munchausen's proxy
          Unhappy

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          So they should have got standard sick/vacation pay from Cognizant, notice period, etc.

          In the U.S., "Your position is terminated. Get off the property." IS the standard sick/vacation pay and notice period..

      5. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        Excuse me AC, is your real name Donald?

        ...or Elon?

        1. ghp

          Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

          What, doesn't Hoehl have a creep with a name at the top?

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        Contractors are sometimes eligible for sick pay and paid time off — it depends on the industry, the terms of their employment with their agencies, and local law. (Will add that I’m in the US, NYC, where some sick time is mandatory).

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        You're right, Elon! Knowing that the NLRB had already ruled that they were jointly employed by Google is not rocket surgery; only reading.

      8. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: These were CONTRACTORS on the Day their Contracts Expired.

        This seems both a case of "kids who don't understand their situation get slapped with a dose of reality" and "US employment terms and regulations suck donkey balls while gargling bull semen, without the courtesy of so much as a reacharound".

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    Why would you even want workers' rights...

    ... when you've got the American dream?

  4. shepzer

    America

    I am often made remember how lucky I am not to be working in tech in America. With no employment rights or protections life must be so precarious and miserable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: America

      Cry. Me. A. River. The boot was firmly on the other foot until very very recently.

  5. Trotts36

    Respect us … oh

    Funny video; Google are truly evil but these dolts deserved everything they got.

  6. cookieMonster Silver badge
    Stop

    Remember this

    The next time you use a google product. Try to find and use an alternative, not always easy I know, but there are alternatives out there.

    1. ghp

      Re: Remember this

      Some examples, please? Like for videos?

  7. Mr D Spenser

    Two types of IT contractor

    Type One - you have specialized skills that you can leverage for well paying short term gigs

    Type Two - you have skills that are valuable, but not valuable enough to hire you on full time

    These people apparently did not understand that they belonged to the second group.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two types of IT contractor

      Type 3: You have no bargaining power. You are employed by a contracting company that has no significant assets to be at-risk, and is purely a legal shell or circuit breaker used so the actual employer can save money by violating various laws (employment, H&S, immigration, environmental) without it being possible to sheet home any legal liability to anyone who could actually be forced by a court to pay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two types of IT contractor

      Thankfully that second behaviour is unlawful in the UK and many other parts of the world as disguised employment. Commonly for tax purposes.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    Wow!

    I see the gogle bois are here in force today.

  9. Sparkus

    Not just Google

    Apple too...

    https://9to5mac.com/2019/02/11/apple-black-site/

  10. hoofie2002

    Reality

    Whilst I despair at US employment law and the way corporates treat their staff, they should have perhaps read their terms and conditions of employment.

    They aren't slaves they signed an employment contract. No-one made them take that job on. They can walk away and find a better paying job with better conditions.

    In the US suddenly agitating for Union Recognition and targeting Google was only ever going to end one way especially if they are sub-contractors [and yes I am aware they definition is being challenged and rulings have been made]

    It does smack of snowflakes finding out the world is a nasty place after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality

      "Rulings have been made"?! Yes, indeed. They are actually being treated against the, ah, "rulings". Anyone up to and including the Hobbs level of authoritarianism would recognize that they are the injured party here.

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Reality

      "No-one made them take that job on."

      It's the _Grapes of Wrath_ decision.

      Employer: Don't like what's on offer? Look at the long line of people behind you, maybe one of them will like it....

      Applicant: I'll take it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reality

        I still remember the ending of Grapes of Wrath as just savage. The future is definitely trending that way again.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Reality

        "Employer: Don't like what's on offer? Look at the long line of people behind you, maybe one of them will like it....

        Applicant: I'll take it."

        Yes, Victorian England was very much like that too. But in the last 150 years, things have moved on rather a lot. It's been a struggle, and there have been conflicts, problems and suffering along the way, but overall we are in a much better place in terms of employment law, health & safety in the workplace etc. It's no longer acceptable to factor in employee deaths as "part of doing business".

    3. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: Reality

      They aren't slaves they signed an employment contract.

      Excuse me, what's this signing an employment contract? Most workers in the US don't sign anything except the W-2 forms that tell their owners (companies) how much to take out of the pay for Uncle Sam. You might get an email that details what the company will (sigh, GENEROUSLY) give you in sick days (not mandatory most places), health insurance (and how much they will deduct for that privilege), and a long list of don't-dos. To be in effect until they decide unilaterally to change the rules ("Pray I don't alter it any further") or drop you like a hot potato without warning.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be interested to know more about their actual job content. Depending on the content, these jobs are getting shifted to somewhere that English is spoken, but labor is cheap - like 1/8 of US wages, or less. That's why most US jobs are service jobs that need to be done in the US. At the same time immigration of service level workers is huge, increasing the supply of service workers and driving down wages, while driving up the demand and price for housing. Those laid off workers face a brutal future.

    1. ghp

      Make America Googel Again?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think you mis-spelt Grovel

    2. PM.

      or AI more likely

      Possibly they can tolerate some shittiness in its work , and the savings , oh man...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Class action - Sue the cunts

    Sue the cunts for breaching NLRB enforcement action and Local and Federal Employment law.

    Punative damages please.:

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The video's on YouTube

    How long till YouTube take it down?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The video's on YouTube

      But they will leave it up for anyone viewing from a staff or contractor IP address pour encourager les autres

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