Contract workers on Google’s YouTube Music Content Operations team were laid off while trying to bargain with the company, the Alphabet Workers Union reported Feb. 29. The workers say they first heard about their lost jobs while presenting before the City Council in Austin, Texas. However, their employer, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH), says that was not the case.

Those affected were working through Google’s Austin offices and responsible for ensuring music content is available and approved for YouTube Music’s subscribers, according to the union, which seeks to represent both directly employed and contingent workers.

Workers’ representatives said they learned about the change during the City Council meeting, during which they were seeking a city resolution asking Google to bargain with the workers, KVUE television in Austin reported. The video shows the workers receiving the news during their presentation.

The incident follows a strike. The Verge reported that 40 team members went on strike last year to demand a change to Google’s return-to-office policy.

Workers won their union election back on April 26, 2023, according to the union. This was after an unfair labor practice strike in February 2023 over a return-to-office mandate. Dozens of local workers returned to the office, but several out-of-state workers continued striking, the union said.

“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,” according to the union. It noted some workers received $19 per hour in pay.

However, Google said the contracts simply came to a natural end.

“As we’ve shared before, these are not Google employees,” a Google spokesperson said in a comment emailed to SIA. “Cognizant is responsible for these workers’ employment terms, including staffing. As is the case here, contracts with our suppliers across the company routinely end on their natural expiry date, which was agreed to with Cognizant.”

Cognizant in an email to SIA said the employees weren’t laid off.

“To clarify, nobody was laid off. A contract expired, and the Austin-based employees are still Cognizant employees,” the company said. “As a professional services company, ramp-downs and ramp-ups of projects are a normal part of Cognizant’s business operations. This contract ended at its planned expiration date.”

The company continued, “Cognizant has an established process for connecting associates with new opportunities across our global organization when these changes arise. These associates will become part of Cognizant’s deployable talent pool, better known as our ‘bench,’ where they are given seven weeks of dedicated, paid time to explore other roles within the organization and build new skills through our training ecosystem.”

Cognizant also said it will continue to support its associates as they find their next projects.