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German trade union IG Metall is using its power to get YouTubers to unionize

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A group of YouTubers led by Jorg Sprave of “The Slingshot Channel” and called the YouTubers Union teamed up with Germany’s powerful IG Metall trade union to fight back Youtube’s recent policies.

Over the last two years, says Sprave, YouTube has made life hard for smaller content creators, at the same time favoring the big, corporate channels such as the ones owned by large media companies and celebrities. Thousands of YouTubers saw their videos demonetized and penalized by YouTube’s algorithms, in some cases removed. They are the same people who, with their creativity, helped YouTube to be what it is today.

The campaign, called FairTube, leverages on Europe’s strong privacy regulations and Germany’s broad labor laws to force YouTube into negotiation of a series of conditions. To achieve their goals, the YouTubers Union has joined forces with IG Metall, the largest trade union in the world – active for more than 100 years and counting over 2 million members, among which many “superb lawyers”.

The proposal advanced by FairTube contains the following requests:

Transparency/Clear rules – Publish everything: categories, procedures, rules. While it’s common for private companies to keep secrets, partnerships are based on transparency. FairTube demands clarity on the censoring procedures, on video monetization criteria, and on how the algorithm promotes videos.

A human to speak to – No more automated replies from unknown servers. No bot or pre-written text is sufficient to deal with a content creator – a partner. YouTubers deserve to be able to communicate efficiently with human beings, and YouTube is a big enough company to invest in better customer care.

Neutral referees – Establish a neutral dispute resolution board. YouTube calls YouTubers “partners”. However, in the case of a dispute, it has all the power. Disputes should be solved with the help of an external, third-party able to neutrally mediate the resolution.

Participation – Give YouTubers the right to speak out their minds and be listened to. The biggest part of the success of the company is to be attributed to YouTubers’s creativity. Sprave calls for a “fully-implemented advisory board” involved in all the decisions the company takes.

“And now, pay attention YouTube,” said Sprave in a video commenting on his FairTube initiative. “You have four weeks to enter into negotiations with us.”
FairTube sent the negotiation request to YouTube’s headquarters in Hamburg. In case of no reply, the next step will be court.

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