Press Release

Google Lays Off Union Workers at YouTube Music



February 29, 2024 2:00 PM

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(Austin, TX)—On Thursday, February 29, Google informed workers on the YouTube Music Content Operations Team that they would be laid off while the workers were testifying before the Austin City Council on a resolution calling for Google to bargain with them in good faith. The workers unanimously won their union election with Alphabet Workers Union-CWA on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. In response to this overwhelming victory, Google has publicly stated it would not engage in bargaining with them. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has previously ruled that Google’s continued refusal to bargain with these workers is unlawful. The Austin City Council passed its resolution after a hearing during which workers revealed that they had just received word of the layoffs.

“This is devastating. We have been fighting for years now to get Google, one of the most powerful and well-resourced companies in the world, to negotiate with us so that we could make a living in exchange for the work we do to make their products better. It is disgusting that Google has taken this path when confronted with its workers’ modest demands to be treated fairly on the job,” said Jack Benedict, Music Generalist, and member of AWU-CWA. 

The YouTube Music Content Operations Team team is based out of Austin, Texas where workers are responsible for ensuring music content is available and approved for YouTube Music’s 80 million subscribers worldwide. Even as workers contribute to the success of the billion dollar platform, they are paid as little as $19 dollars an hour and receive minimal benefits. Many workers are forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. 

Workers began an Unfair Labor Practice strike on February 3, 2023 in response to a retaliatory return-to-work mandate. This was the first strike in Alphabet/Google history. Workers joined the strike because their only other option was “voluntary termination” for being unable to physically show up at the office. Many workers either live across state lines or are not paid enough to afford the associated expenses with in-person work, like gas and childcare costs. While dozens of local workers returned to work, several out of state workers maintained the strike.

“It is clear that Google thinks it can act outside the law. The company refused to recognize the overwhelming number of YouTube Music Workers who requested voluntary recognition, then enforced a retaliatory return-to-work mandate, then ignored the NLRB’s ruling that recognized Google as a joint employer to these workers, and lastly by continuing to refuse to bargain with workers, even after the NLRB ruled such behavior unlawful. We know that the time will come where Google will be brought to task for its illegal union-busting behavior. Workers across Google and Alphabet will continue to organize because we know that in building our power, we will be better able to protect our livelihoods and establish the fair working conditions and protected voice on the job we deserve,” said Sam Regan, Music Generalist, and member of AWU-CWA. 

Additionally, workers are subcontracted by Cognizant to work on the Google owned YouTube platform. The layers of subcontracting are a mechanism by which Google distances itself from its responsibilities to its workers. However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld a ruling that recognized Google and Cognizant as joint employers of these workers. The NLRB found that Google has control over workers and their working conditions and is thus obligated to directly negotiate with their union.


Alphabet Workers Union - CWA unites full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors at Google and other Alphabet companies in the United States and Canada in collective action to ensure that our workplace is equitable and that Alphabet acts ethically. We are members of Communications Workers of America Local 9009 and currently represent over 1,400 workers across Alphabet. Learn more at or follow us at @AlphabetWorkers.