IG Metall, Europe’s largest trade union with 2.3 million members, has joined forces with a German YouTuber who set up a Facebook group called The YouTubers Union after his videos started getting “de-monetized.” The German metalworkers union is throwing itself in the battle between Google and the millions of people whose income derives from uploading videos to the site. It’s inviting YouTubers to become members and is running a campaign called FairTube to press for better terms.
IG Metall has “given Google a deadline of August 23 to come to the negotiating table,” reports Bloomberg. “If it refuses, IG Metall plans to use its deep pockets and army of lawyers to pursue legal options.” From the report: So what exactly can IG Metall do? A lawsuit is the most likely next step. The union claims that decisions made to de-monetize a video with no explanation contravene the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. One strand of the rules, introduced last year, gives people the right to know whether their personal data is being processed, for what purpose, and to request a copy of it all. The union argues that algorithms deciding to stop ads being attached to a clip generate such data. It’s a smart play. With the deep pockets afforded by its huge membership, IG Metall is able to contest issues where an individual would struggle.
Notably, the union is trying to use the same tool of its members’ atomization — the online platform — to organize them. Even before it joined forces with the YouTubers Union Facebook group, IG Metall had launched an initiative called FairCrowd, a website where gig economy workers provide feedback on the apps they work for. It’s not that far from its home turf: IG Metall already represents employees at tech companies like SAP SE.
If God had not given us sticky tape, it would have been necessary to invent it.