The YouTubers Union, a community-based movement fighting for the rights of content creators and users, has joined forces with IG Metall, Germany’s largest union and Europe’s largest trade union. Together, they have launched a joint venture called FairTube and sent a letter of demands to YouTube accompanied by a video explaining their concerns, demands, and plan of action.
The move is one of the most significant organized labor actions taken by creators on the platform, and puts some actual union power behind what has thus far been a nascent and disorganized movement.
In recent years, YouTube creators have consistently spoken out about changes to the massive platform that they say they are rarely consulted on that affect their ability to make money. For example, YouTube has repeatedly changed how it handles copyright takedown requests (allowing copyright holders to assert copyright on and monetize videos that they didn’t upload, for example.) YouTube has also controversially “demonetized” or issued content warnings to some innocuous channels. One of the creators leading the unionization charge, Jörg Sprave, has had his popular slingshot videos removed by YouTube.
“We aren’t demanding things that cut into profits or are unrealistic. We want fairness. We want transparency. We want to be treated like partners. And we want personal communication instead of anonymous communication,” Sprave told Motherboard.
In a video announcing the move, IG Metall’s Vice President Christiane Benner, Sprave said that the partnership meant “a completely new time begins. It is no longer the case that we are helpless against Youtube. With the IG Metall, we have a strong, strong partner.” Benner added, “We know from experience that together we can achieve a lot.”