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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: January 20

CODE-CWA Newsletter: January 20

“Today, 12,000 of our co-workers woke up to devastating news. In one email Sundar Pichai has taken away the livelihoods of thousands of workers. Alphabet leadership claims ‘full responsibility’ for this decision, but that is little comfort to the 12,000 workers who are now without jobs. This is egregious and unacceptable behavior by a company that made $17 billion dollars in profit last quarter alone. Workers have never been able to rely on Alphabet for secure employment—evidenced by the vast subcontracted workforce—but it is increasingly clear that tech workers must organize at a massive scale to force employers to directly bargain with workers in order to protect our jobs.” -Alphabet Workers Union/CWA on the announcement of 12,000 Google workers being laid off

This week thousands of workers from Google, Amazon and other tech companies were impacted by mass layoffs. While these corporations and their CEOs rake in billions in profits, tech workers and their families are suffering at the hands of greed. Once again, these actions affirm that tech workers are workers, and just like any other industry, must organize in order to have stability and safety at work. We stand in solidarity with all workers affected by these layoffs and want to reiterate that a union on the job can mitigate the harm by negotiating a strong severance package and worker protections.

Although things look bleak this week, we can’t deny that the game and tech industry is changing. From Alphabet to Activision, unions are on the rise and workers are fighting to bring about meaningful change to their workplaces. Activision Blizzard has had two groups form a union in the last year alone and another one is on the way. Microsoft voluntarily recognized Zenimax Workers United/CWA, the first union at the company, and even Apple is getting backlash from investors over how they are treating employees who organize. In fact, this past year, union petitions skyrocketed to a point where the NLRB could not keep up.

Organizing gives workers a voice; and eventually, that voice will be too loud to ignore. If you’re ready to build power and make a difference in your workplace. Reach out!


On Sunday, January 22 join us for an organizer training at 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT where we talk about union basics, the CWA organizing models, and some key ways to connect with co-workers through organizing. And on Saturday, January 28 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!


Worker News

The Game Studios Changing the Industry by Unionizing

Workers have been fighting to enact change for a long time, and for the video games industry, this cannot ring more true. What started out with slack groups, and small get-togethers has now become a movement where workers are organizing into unions. A decade of groundwork at Game developer conferences and on social media bore fruit. Harassment, crunch, and low pay caused a nationwide effort for change, with workers looking for long term and sustainable change. Some workers like those at Activision Blizzard were tired of the conditions at their workplace. Others like the workers at Vodeo Games, and Proletariat wanted to keep the benefits they already had. In both cases the answer was unionize. Some companies like Paizo, Tender Claws and Microsoft even chose to voluntarily recognize their union. In a Washington Post Ad, Microsoft and CWA said, “As we enter a new year, we remain committed to creating the best workplaces we can for people who make a living in the tech sector. When both labor and management bring their voices to the bargaining table, employees, shareholders and customers alike benefit.” Read more and find a list of companies where workers are unionizing on Polygon

Apple Reaches Deal With Investors to Audit Its Labor Practices

Apple has recently been under fire for violating its official human rights policy in regards to their employees. Many federal regulators and employees have complained that Apple has violated workers rights repeatedly, especially in regards to worker organizing. Many investors are concerned. As Brad Lander, said “There’s a big apparent gap between Apple’s stated human rights policies regarding worker organizing, and its practices.” Because of this, a collection of investors, including New York City pension funds, has asked the company to conduct an assessment of its U.S. labor practices— the group of investors have almost $7 billion in shares. According to the group of investors, Apple's current human rights policy has it respect the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, even though it does not do so in practice. Part of the declaration reads “freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” The group has recommended the audit be done by a third party that does not aid companies in union busting. “While a credible, independent assessment by individuals or organizations with the appropriate expertise on workers' freedom of association could uncover important information about Apple's response to worker organizing, including its use of union busting consultants, workers need concrete solutions now. Apple must commit to a true policy of neutrality toward union organizing efforts,” expressed CWA in a statement. Read our statement here and more on the New York Times

World of Warcraft Support Studio to Form Third Union at Activision Blizzard

57 employees at Proletariat games, who were acquired by Activision Blizzard last summer, are forming a union with CWA under the Proletariat Workers Alliance. The group comprises all workers at the studio except for managers. Workers at the studio wanted to organize as soon as they heard they would be joining Activision Blizzard. According to Alison Brown, a software engineer developer, “there was a concern that suddenly becoming part of a bigger organization that we might lose some of the things that made Proletariat special. No matter how much trust we have for management [...], things can change. I started in the industry 14 years ago, I’ve been laid off more than once. I’ve watched benefits change and get worse. There’s no control over it. But if we’re bargaining collectively, if we get these things in writing, there are mechanisms in place to make sure that we have a voice.” By unionizing, the workers are hoping to keep their current paid time-off allowances, maintain transparency, healthcare benefits, and flexible remote work options to name a few. Management has chosen to not recognize the union, which although is in line with their previous responses to unionizing, is different from Microsoft entering a legally binding agreement with CWA, to remain neutral, if any employees chose to unionize. . By refusing to voluntarily recognize the union, Activision Blizzard is taking once again, an anti-union stance. Read more on Polygon


ZeniMax Studios Forms Biggest Union in Gaming — and the First for Microsoft

ZeniMax Studios just formed the biggest union in the gaming industry. Not only is this the first union for tech behemoth Microsoft, but in an unprecedented move, Microsoft chose to voluntarily recognize the union. The decision made the process more streamlined, and are now awaiting a collective bargaining agreement. "The biggest thing that everybody is hoping to see is that we just work out a salary that is fair and make sense. We know that we necessarily can't solve crunch in one bargaining, but we do want to create more humane solutions to crunch," said Dylan Burton, a senior quality assurance tester for ZeniMax Studios in Dallas. Last year, Microsoft entered into a legally binding agreement with CWA to remain neutral if any employees chose to unionize. Initially this was geared towards employees from Activision Blizzard if post acquisition from Microsoft, however Microsoft has extended this to other employees as well. "I think that it will be beneficial in the long run for these companies to allow their workers to unionize. Workers who are not under that immense pressure, who have a say in how they're treated, will be happier, they'll be able to be more creative, they'll have a better time at work. And that means the games will be better as well," explained Nicole Carpenter, senior reporter at Polygon. Read more here


This Week in History

JANUARY 17, 1915Radical Labor organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons leads hunger march in Chicago; IWW songwriter Ralph Chaplin wrote “Solidarity Forever” for the march.

Song of the Week

Solidarity Forever cover by Tom Morello: the Nightwatchman

When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run

There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun

Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one

But the union makes us strong

Solidarity forever

Solidarity forever

Solidarity forever

For the union makes us strong