All YouTube Music Employees Laid Off by Google Amid City Council Deposition over Working Conditions

A Google spokesperson claimed it was a regular contract termination, but the company has refused to negotate with the employee union

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 7, 2024

After going on strike last year over Google's crackdown on remote work, the entire YouTube Music team has been laid off by the tech company.

Some of the employees found out about the layoffs while testifying at an Austin City Council meeting in Texas, where the governing body was to vote on a resolution to negotiate with the Alphabet Workers Union, which represents workers at Google's parent company. 

"We just got laid off, our jobs are ending today, effective immediately," one employee said during the deposition, captured on video and posted to TikTok.

@alexyardigans Google Fires ENTIRE Alphabet Workers @alphabetworkersunioncwa (AWU-CWA) Team Live During Austin City Council Meeting. Google refused to come to the bargaining table after this team unanimously unionized. The day the workers show up to testify on the resolution, Google lays off the entire team on the spot! Corporations Do Not Care About You! #Austin #laidoff #texas #longhorns #layoff #fired #google #NLRB #fyp ♬ Merry Go Round of Life (Old Piano) - Xakei

According to the union, Google has publicly refused to negotiate with them since YouTube Music workers unanimously voted to unionize in April 2023. They also alleged on Twitter that the Austin-based YouTube Music team had been receiving such low pay — as little as $19 USD per hour, with minimal benefits — from the billion-dollar platform that some members were working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Per a statement from Cognizant, the professional services company through which Google hired the YouTube Music workers, the employees were let go after their contract ended at its intended date, KXAN reports. The company said they will receive seven weeks of paid time to "explore other roles within the organization."

A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that Cognizant was responsible for the termination of employment, not Google. "Contracts with our suppliers across the company routinely end on their natural expiry date, which was agreed to with Cognizant," the tech giant said in a statement.

"They're sticking to the story that it was a contract ending, but it really was a layoff," union member Jack Benedict told SFGATE. "Specifically, it was a retaliation." The publication also noted that the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) said in January that Google's decision not to bargain with the workers was "unlawful."

The laid-off YouTube Music employees have since launched a GoFundMe campaign, asking for support during this difficult time of transition. Last month, both Warner Music Group and Bell Media laid off between nine and 10 percent of their employees just weeks after Pitchfork writers and editors lost their jobs amid Condé Nast's decision to absorb the publication into GQ.

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