YouTube Contractors To Strike Over Forced Return To Office
Saturday February 4, 2023. 12:00 AM , from Slashdot
A group of YouTube contractors in Texas are currently on strike today 'in protest of rules requiring such workers -- even those who have always worked remotely -- to report to the office,' reports Axios. From the report: All of the 43-person team of contractors for YouTube Music voted to strike, following an edict that they report to an office in Austin starting on Monday. The workers, who are technically employed by Cognizant, were notified of the Feb. 6 return to office date in November. That came after workers had filed the prior month for union recognition, leading some to conclude the move was being made in retaliation. The workers are also seeking to have Google and Cognizant recognized as joint employers. The vast majority of the contractors were hired during the pandemic -- and have always worked remotely. Nearly a quarter of them live somewhere other than Austin. Workers say their pay, which starts at around $19 per hour, isn't enough to cover the costs of relocating to -- and living in -- Austin. Some also care for a child, spouse or parent, which complicates a shift to the office.
Cognizant says that the workers' contracts have always stated that the jobs were in-office jobs and that it communicated to workers since Dec. 2021 that it would provide 90 days notice when employees were expected back in the office. 'Cognizant respects the right of our associates to disagree with our policies, and to protest them lawfully,' the company said in a statement to Axios. 'However, it is disappointing that some of our associates have chosen to strike over a return to office policy that has been communicated to them repeatedly since December 2021.'
'My goal is to keep my friends employed,' said Katie Marschher, who has worked at Cognizant on YouTube Music for nearly two years. Like many on her team, Marschher said she works more than one job to make ends meet. Although she lives in Austin, one of her other jobs is helping bands on tour, which requires her to travel. That works well remotely but she would have to scale back if required to be in office. 'Our hope is we can actually have a dialogue where we are listened to,' said Neil Gossell, who joined the YouTube/Cognizant team last year. He took the job specifically because it allowed him to work from home close to his spouse, who has post-traumatic stress disorder. The YouTube Music STRIKE press conference has been shared on Facebook and Twitter.
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