CODE-CWA Newsletter: August 19
CODE-CWA Newsletter: August 19
“Activision Blizzard has spent the last year violating U.S. labor law and using intimidation tactics to deter workers from organizing for better wages and respect on the job. These union-busting tricks have only strengthened Activision workers' resolve to exercise their rights and transform the video game industry for the better,” said Tom Smith, CWA national organizing director
Activision Blizzard has been relentlessly trying to undermine the organizing efforts of their employees. They have hired union busting firm Reed Smith multiple times and refused to voluntarily recognize the supermajority of workers who formed unions. After agreeing to finally work with the QA Union at Raven studios, the company has not learned its lesson and is refusing to extend the same courtesy to the QA testers at Blizzard Albany. This pointless struggle has only delayed the inevitable and have made workers even more determined to succeed. All over the country workers are banding together to fight for what they deserve and signs point to victory.
From Amazon and Starbucks to Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, workers have been mobilizing for better conditions. The Covid pandemic and unacceptable working conditions has led workers to say enough is enough. Workers all over the country are supporting each other. When a union drive is successful, it inspires others to follow suit. And those workers then help other unionization efforts succeed. Let's continue to support each other.
If you're attending Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh this week, stop by our panel on Saturday, August 20th at 2 PM. It’s called ‘Beat the Boss: Lessons From Worker Organizing in Tech & Games.’ We'll have workers from A Better ABK, Alphabet Workers Union/CWA, campaign leads from CODE-CWA, and more talking about what it takes to win big for workers. The panel will be moderated by Vice’s labor and tech reporter Edward Ongweso so you don't want to miss this!
This is the year of worker power, and it is here to stay. Organize! Reach out!
On Saturday August 10th and August 27th join us for an organizer training at 10 AM EST/ 7 AM PST where we talk about union basics, the CWA organizing models, and some key ways to connect with co-workers through organizing. And on Sunday September 18, join us for a building the committee training at 9 AM EST/ 12 PM PST where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!
Activision Blizzard Continues to Ignore Labor Law by Illegally Surveilling Workers
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Activision Blizzard claiming that it engaged in illegal surveillance of workers during the July walkout to end gender inequity, cut off access to a chat channel where workers were discussing wages, hours and working conditions, and threatened to shut down other internal channels of communication where workers discussed labor issues. Activision Blizzard has previously said it was going to cooperate with investigations within the company and let workers speak freely about their own workplace issues. However the company has repeatedly tried to stop organizers from unionizing and even hired union busting firm Reed Smith. “Activision Blizzard has doubled down on their anti-worker behavior. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will recognize that Activision is engaged in a systematic campaign to undermine the law and protect these workers’ rights to organize without interference from union-busting managers,” said CWA national organizing director Tom Smith. If found guilty, Activision Blizzard could face policy changes and fines. Read more on Bloomberg.
Amazon Warehouse Workers Near Albany File Union Election Petition
400 workers at an Amazon warehouse in upstate New York are petitioning for a union election. The workers will be represented by the Amazon Labor Union which was responsible for the union victory at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. Warehouse near Albany, referred to as ALB1, has been trying to unionize for months. Instead of voluntarily recognizing the union, Amazon has resorted to union busting tactics like captive audience meetings. The regional office is in the process of verifying the petition, and union leaders are planning to discuss the union campaign in a press conference on Wednesday. Read more here.
Activision Blizzard Is Using ‘Diablo IV’ to Argue Against Unions
Activision Blizzard has chosen not to voluntarily recognize unionization efforts at their studio in Albany. The successful unionization effort of QA testers at Raven studios, has inspired QA testers at Blizzard Albany to unionize as well. However instead of recognizing the union, the company is choosing to fight back and is using Diablo IV to do so. Lawyers for Activision Blizzard want all workers who have contributed to Diablo IV to be a part of the voting block. “It is darkly ironic that if an employee wants to be able to update their portfolio or do something that might help them find better employment elsewhere, they have to wait until the game is released. But when the company wants to argue against what the majority of employees in a given unit have stated is in their best interest and what they want, it’s totally fine for them to just share stuff,” said one current Blizzard Albany employee. Although the company is fighting their case, like before it will only delay the inevitability of Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA winning the recognition they deserve. Read more on the Washington Post.
“It’s the Year of Worker Power” – Why Unionization in Gaming Is Here to Stay
Especially after the Covid pandemic, workers have realized the value of organizing. As a spokesperson for A Better Ubisoft explains “The COVID pandemic has shifted perceptions of workers everywhere. Many of us saw that a different world is indeed possible, that flexibility and [work from home] are feasible and beneficial, and most importantly that we, the workers, are the ones who create the value. It is our labor that pays our executives‘ salaries.” Now workers everywhere are protesting and attempting to organize. QA testers at Keyword studios were able to unanimously vote for unionization, and workers at a better Ubisoft were able to garner public support for their endeavors. Workers were also able to see that their counterparts in Europe had much better working conditions and pro labor laws. At Raven Studios, when QA testers were fired, the remaining workers protested and organized. Through organizing, they were able to convert all contract QA testers to full time employees, acquire an increase in wages, and with the help of CWA, get Microsoft to agree to a labor neutrality agreement. Workers all over the country are seeing the benefit of organizing and are supporting each other. “Even when Activision Blizzard announced their walkout, we had other studios join us in solidarity. We didn’t ask them to do that, they just did. It’s about high time! People are growing up to the savviness of how the U.S. is notoriously anti-worker, and how we can overcome that,” said Jessica Gonzalez, organizer with CODE-CWA and founder of A Better ABK. Read more here.
This Week in History
AUGUST 14 1935 – President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, providing, for the first time ever, guaranteed income for retirees and creating a system of unemployment benefits.
Song of the Week
Pressure rising to take their way
Oh woah oh
Make your meaning
Make your meaning
In this push and pull and push and pull world
They'll tell you that you will fall behind
Get back in line
But it's your way, your time
YouTube Music Contract Workers Unionize with Alphabet Workers Union-CWA & File Petition with NLRB to Win Bargaining Rights
ActBlue Technical Services Workers form Union with Communications Workers of America; Voluntarily Recognized by Management