CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 28
CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 28
Credit: @takesAEGIS @CODE_CWA
Workers at SEGA have just launched their union, which is set to be the largest multi-department gaming unit in the U.S. SEGA was founded over 60 years ago and came out with record breaking franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog. Now over 140 workers at the video game giant are unionizing as the Allied Employees Guild Improving SEGA (AEGIS-CWA). Workers are calling on management to voluntarily recognize the union organized by a supermajority of workers.
Youtube Music contractors organizing with the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA won their historic union election 41-0. The NLRB is set to determine whether or not workers will be able to force both Alphabet and their subcontractor Cognizant to the negotiating table. This watershed ruling would allow these YouTube Music workers to be the first to ever bring Alphabet to the negotiating table.
These recent wins are only possible due to the perseverance and hard work of thousands of workers across the tech and gaming industries who are fighting for basic dignity and respect at work. If you believe workers should get a fair wage and democracy in the workplace, we ask you to stand with the recently unionized SEGA employees. Workers want to hear from you! Leave a solidarity comment and sign AEGIS-CWA's petition! And if you want to organize your workplace—Reach out!
CODE-CWA invites you to an exclusive online event on Monday May 8th at 8PM ET/ 5 PM PT. For years, VC’s and execs benefited from the false narrative that tech and gaming workers are “different” from other workers and don’t need unions. These authors challenge that idea. Looking at three decades of organizing, they are going to show us how we can learn from our predecessors and apply that to workplace showdowns today.
Join us with Sidney Rothstein (author of Recoding Power: Tactics for Mobilizing Tech Workers) and Virginia Doellgast (author of Exit, Voice, and Solidarity: Contesting Precarity in the US and European Telecommunications Industries), where we will be discussing YOUR role in the fight to unionize. Reserve your spot while spaces last!
On Sunday, April 30th, and Saturday, May 6th, join us for an organizer training at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT where we talk about connecting with co-workers and union basics. And on Sunday, May 7th at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT join us for a building the committee training where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!
Credit: @ZeniMaxWorkers Above: Zenimax workers preparing to bargain with ZeniMax and Microsoft for their first ever bargaining agreement
SEGA of America Is the Latest Video Game Studio to Organize
SEGA of America workers are forming the largest multi-department U.S. video game union to date. Over 144 employees ranging from QA to marketing, are organizing under the Allied Employees Guild Improving SEGA (AEGIS-CWA). Organizing at SEGA started more than a year ago, and initially was a way to make friends and connect. According to employees, a mutual love of games was the common ground that allowed employees to get to know each other and discuss workplace issues. Although employees have filed for a union election, they are hoping for voluntary recognition. “I really hope that management recognizes that we’re not doing this out of any sort of antagonism. We are doing this because we respect our coworkers and we want to be able to make a sustainable workplace,” said senior community manager Torie Winkler. Read more on The Verge
YouTube Music Workers Just Unanimously Won a Union Vote
Youtube Music contract workers at Cognizant have voted to unionize— not a single person voted against the effort. The 49 workers have organized with the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA. Low wages was a major factor for unionizing. “Even as workers contribute to the success of the YouTube platform, valued at over $180 billion dollars, workers are paid as little as $19 dollars an hour and receive minimal benefits. Many workers are forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said the AWU-CWA in a statement. After organizing, Cognizant issued a Return-To-Office mandate in an effort to bust the unionizing efforts. Many of the workers chose the role for its remote work policy and do not live near the office—many are not even in the same state. By returning to the office, workers would have to pay for higher costs of living, relocation, childcare, and would have to give up their other jobs. Google has tried to relinquish responsibility, but the NLRB may name Alphabet (Google’s parent company) a joint employer, forcing the corporation to bargain directly with workers. Read more on Vice
Apple Store Workers Want to Unionize. Apple Is Union Busting.
Six employees at an Apple store in Kansas City, Missouri were fired for trying to organize a union. Although the company has said the employees were fired for attendance related reasons, the evidence suggests otherwise. D’Lite Xiong, one of the fired employees, said that her probation came as a surprise since she was recently given a raise and a promotion. The other employees faced similar experiences. Not only that, but after being fired, employees were forced to sign a “Release of All Claims” which included a clause to not hold influence over coworkers still at the store. On unionizing, another fired employee, Gemma Wyatt said “It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Employer retaliation against you isn’t legal. You have recourse. Don’t use our experience as an example not to; use our experience as a reason to go for it. And there’s nothing about unionizing that takes away your power; it only improves your station.” CWA has already filed several ULP charges with the NLRB with workers hoping for reinstatement, back pay, and an admission of guilt from Apple. Read more on Jacobin
Oakland Trader Joe’s Store Becomes First to Unionize in California
Trader Joe’s now has a unionized store in its home state of California. 73 workers voted in favor of unionizing with Trader Joe’s United, making this the third unionized store in the country, and the sixth to hold a union election. If no objections are filed, workers at the Oakland location can start bargaining with management. “This union campaign ... has not only been the most fun I’ve had at my workplace in years, it has also been the most meaningful and connective for many of us. I am incredibly proud to be part of this courageous crew,” said Dominique Bernardo, who led the organizing effort, and has been working for over 18 years. The push to unionize was largely because of declining worker benefits, a reduction in monetary compensation, and low morale. Trader Joe’s has been known to rigorously union bust, and there are currently 56 open unfair labor practice cases lodged with the NLRB against them. Read more on LA Times
The Landmark Sweatshop Case That Shaped Biden’s Labor Secretary Pick
Julie Su, a daughter of Chinese immigrants, if confirmed, would be the first Asian American secretary in President Biden’s cabinet. “The combination of having been a non-profit attorney representing workers of color in civil rights litigation, then moving into government, is unique among people in higher ranks of government. She has a level of empathy and compassion that comes from her personal experience,” said Julia Figueira-McDonough, an attorney who has worked for Su for more than a decade. Su, a civil rights attorney who graduated from Harvard Law, fought her landmark case at 26 and saved 72 Thai nationals who were enslaved in a sweatshop in El Monte, California. The trafficked victims were forced to work more than 17 hours a day and earned less than $1 an hour for up to seven years. Su and other team members were able to secure the victims’ release, get them legal immigration status, and recover $4 million in stolen wages. Since this career-defining case, Su has been able to help pass an anti-trafficking law, get a new visa category for human trafficking victims, and has spearheaded programs to protect and educate workers who still toil in sweatshops. Read more on The Guardian
This Week in History
April 29th 1899 – Mineowners were planting spies, firing union members and were not giving fair wages. Almost 1000 silver miners took 3000 pounds of dynamite and blew up the Bunker Hill mine mill in Wardner, Idaho in response.
Song of the Week
Sixteen and time to pay off
I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe
Forty hours thirty-six dollars a week
But it's a paycheck, Jack.
It's so hot in here, hot like Sahara
You could faint in the heat
NLRB Issues Complaint—Apple Joining Ranks of Fellow Notorious Union-Busters Starbucks & Amazon
New CWA report reveals alarming racial inequities at Apple, TCGplayer continues its union-busting & more
Apple Fires Houston Worker, Escalating Illegal Union-Busting Campaign