News & Commentary

February 6, 2023

In today’s News and Commentary, YouTube subcontractors strike a Return-to-Office policy; Teamsters prepare for upcoming contract negotiations with UPS; Woburn, MA teachers union agrees to reimburse city $225,000 for costs incurred during 5-day strike.

In what appears to be the first strike in Google history, YouTube subcontractors walked out on Friday to protest the company’s Return-to-Office policy. Cognizant, an Alphabet (Google’s parent company) contracting partner and the YouTube subcontractors direct employer, informed workers of the RTO policy in November. Workers are expected to return to the Austin, Texas office on February 6. A majority of Cognizant employees joined the company remotely and almost a quarter are not Texas-based. The workers are demanding a policy that is “fair” and “flexible.”

As the end of their 5-year contract approaches, UPS workers are preparing for national and local contract negotiations. The Teamsters union, representing 340,000 UPS workers, will begin national contract negotiations in April. For the first time, the Teamsters President and Secretary-Treasurer will take part in the negotiations. The union is particularly invested in improving working conditions after spikes in shipping volumes and several heatwaves shed light on the current untenable shift structure.

On Sunday, the Woburn Teachers’ Association reached an agreement with the city, ending their 5-day strike. The union secured salary increases for both teachers and paraprofessionals, but hesitated to conclude the agreement due to the city’s demand for reimbursement of costs incurred during the strike. The four-year contract will increase teachers’ salaries by nearly 14%, while paraprofessionals can expect an almost 40% increase in pay. The city estimated the cost of the strike at $250,000 for police details, school lunches, and a cancelled professional development day, among other things. The Woburn Teachers’ Association conceded after 5 hours of negotiations – it will pay $225,000 in reimbursement over the four years of the contract, with an additional $20,000 to be donated to local charities. The 550 union members, along with 4,300 students, will return to school on Monday.  

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