Google is discontinuing certain business relationships with contracting firms such as Cognizant and Accenture, which employ workers involved in supporting various YouTube services. The move comes as Google, which acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, undergoes changes in its contracting arrangements.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the job cuts will primarily affect workers supporting YouTube TV and YouTube's social media accounts. The majority of these workers, located in Austin, will be impacted.
Cognizant workers have been informed about the cuts since the beginning of May, with various effective end dates ranging from May 31 to the end of July, as reported by three workers.
The exact number of affected Cognizant workers remains uncertain. As for Accenture, two sources estimate that approximately 120 to 150 workers will lose their positions. However, the insider was unable to independently verify the exact number in this case. One Accenture worker mentioned that their effective end date is today.
Following the recent unionisation vote, where a group of Cognizant workers supporting YouTube Music unanimously voted 41-0 in favor of joining the Alphabet Workers Union, these workforce reductions have taken place.
The National Labour Relations Board officially certified the vote on May 5. The cuts did not affect the YouTube Music team, responsible for curating themed playlists and reviewing song metadata.
According to three workers from the Cognizant team supporting YouTube TV, they had been engaged in preliminary discussions about forming their own union, following the footsteps of the YouTube Music group.
According to Business Insider, Google has confirmed the adjustments to its contract workforce in a statement and refuted any connection to union activities.
"As we've said, we are managing our spend with our suppliers and vendors more effectively to create durable savings where possible. This work has been happening for well over a year across Alphabet and spans dozens of our major suppliers in the US and abroad. Any suggestion that these changes are due to reasons beyond increasing our efficiency and cost savings is untrue," a spokesperson said.
In an email, Cognizant has verified that its contract supporting YouTube TV will be coming to an end.
"As a professional services company, ramp-downs and ramp-ups of projects are a normal part of Cognizant's work with clients. We do have a ramp down in our YouTube TV project; although this specific project has come to an end, those affected by this change remain Cognizant employees," a spokesperson said in a statement.
According to a spokesperson, workers impacted by Google's decision to terminate its business with Cognizant will be placed on a "bench" policy. This policy allows them five weeks of paid time to undergo training and seek internal job opportunities before their employment is terminated.
According to a statement from an Accenture spokesperson, they stated, "From time to time, we adjust our workforce on ongoing projects to meet the needs of our clients. We are fully committed to supporting our people through this transition.”
Google and Cognizant have been challenging a ruling by the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) that classified Google as a "joint employer" of Cognizant's workers who provide support for YouTube. HR representatives from Cognizant had previously informed workers that even if the ruling was upheld, Google's role in union negotiations would be limited.
Contractors employed by Cognizant to support YouTube Music in Austin expressed their plans to unionise last year, aiming to secure a guaranteed remote work policy and advocate for other improvements.
Additionally, contract workers from various agencies working for Google have been organising to push for better treatment and working conditions from the tech giant.
A group of workers at Appen, commonly known as "raters," recently visited the Google headquarters to voice their concerns and demand improvements in their wages and working conditions. The visit comes as Google initiated layoffs of 12,000 full-time employees in January, citing shifting economic circumstances.
Companies such as Apple, Starbucks, and Wells Fargo have been actively resisting the growing trend of unionisation. Despite a significant increase in union interest, with levels nearing all-time highs, only approximately 10% of workers in the United States are currently union members.