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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: July 22

22 Jul, 2022

CODE-CWA Newsletter: July 22

“We formed this union because we demand better treatment, compensation, and benefits for our crucial role in game development. All game developers deserve this, not just those of us in Quality Assurance. With our union, we will be able to negotiate for ourselves to get the treatment we deserve,” said Ryan Claudy, Associate Test Analyst at Blizzard Albany and member of Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA

The video game organizing wave is at an all time high this week. On Tuesday, a supermajority of quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions) announced the formation of the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA and filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. On Thursday, hundreds of Activision Blizzard workers staged a walkout to demand the company commit to labor neutrality and reproductive rights for workers in need. Finally, Tender Claws studio filed for representation with the NLRB for their union Tender Claws Human Union/CWA today!  

Across the board people are realizing the value of forming a union. More than 1930 petitions were filed this year with the NLRB — a 56% increase from last year. 170 Starbucks locations are filing to vote for a union election, even though no locations were unionized at the start of 2021. Amazon workers are also starting to unionize across the country. Microsoft — a behemoth in the tech industry — agreed to a legally binding labor neutrality agreement with CWA. And QA testers are leading the charge of unionizing in the gaming industry and hoping their efforts will inspire the rest of the industry to unionize. This is the power of organizing.  

No matter how big or small, it counts. Organize. Reach out!


On Saturday July 23rd, join us for an organizer training at 12 PM PST where we talk about union basics, the CWA organizing models, and some key ways to connect with co-workers through organizing. And on Saturday August 13th, join us for a building the committee training at 12 PM PST where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training programfor upcoming classes!

Worker News

Blizzard QA workers in Albany are organizing Activision’s second union with CWA

The quality assurance team at the Blizzard Albany-based studio formerly known as Vicarious Visions has filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board and will be represented by CWA. “I firmly believe that having the union is going to give us the power that we need to make our workplace better. It’s very exciting to go public with it and hopefully be able to inspire others the way that we’ve been inspired by Raven, and Starbucks and Amazon and all the unions that have come before us,” said Amanda Laven, associate test analyst at Blizzard Albany. The QA team plans to organize under the Game Workers Alliance Albany, so that workers in other divisions can rally together. Last week, the group asked Activision Blizzard to formally recognize the union. Although the company has not given an official stance, they have said that they will formally give a response to the NLRB. “There is absolutely no reason for Activision Blizzard to refuse to recognize the Blizzard Albany workers’ union. There is no doubt about what the workers want. Over 95% of the quality assurance testers have signed onto a vision statement requesting union recognition. Recognizing the union will show that Activision Blizzard’s management is serious about improving the company’s work environment,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. Read more hereandhere.And follow @WeAreGWAAlbanyon Twitter !

Indie company Tender Claws is the next game studio to unionize

Today, workers at Tender Claws— an independent studio working at the intersection of art and games—have filed for a union representation election with the NLRB for their union Tender Claws Human Union with the Communications Workers of America. This filing comes on the heels of successful video game organizing at various studios including Vodeo, Raven Software, and the recent launch at Blizzard Albany. The union will consist of at least 13 workers across several different departments, including both full-time and part-time producers, artists, and programmers. One hundred percent of the bargaining unit supports the effort. “A lot of people will assume that unions are only for huge, sprawling, corporate AAA companies, or they’ll assume it’s impossible to unionize big companies — only small ones are what you can do. The perfect synchronization between us and the workers at Blizzard Albany shows that unions are for everyone at every company,” said Robin LoBuglio, member of TCHU/CWA. Read more on Polygonand Follow @TCHumanUnionon Twitter.

Activision Blizzard workers walk out, protesting loss of abortion rights

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees walked out on July 21, in Texas, California, Minnesota and New York to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Their demands included a request for all workers to have the right to work remotely and for workers living in “locations passing discriminatory legislation,” such as antiabortion laws, to be offered relocation assistance to a different state or country.” We need to make sure that all of our LGBT people, all of the people at ABK [Activision Blizzard King] with the capacity for pregnancy, all of the women at the company feel safe and protected and that they have the ability to live in places that aren’t going to actively harm them,” said Valentine Powell, a California-based senior engineer on “World of Warcraft.” Employees also demanded the company sign a labor-neutrality agreement to respect the rights of workers to join a union; on Twitter, the workers group A Better ABK said the demand was necessitated by union-busting efforts on the part of Activision Blizzard. Read more here.

How QA workers are driving the video game industry’s union push

The video game industry has historically been non-unionized, which allowed companies like Activision Blizzard to take advantage of their workers. QA testers in particular have had a harder time than most. Often QA testers are paid close to minimum wage, do not receive benefits, and are made to feel they can be easily replaced. These poor working conditions have caused the workers to fight back. As James Russwurm, a QA worker at Keywords Studios said, “because of the economic pressures, you’re really seeing the workers who are least paid hit the hardest. It’s like we’re trying to find all the bugs in the labor, and make sure we get some fixed.” QA testers at Raven studios were the first to unionize in a AAA game company, QA testers at Keyword studios organized next, and finally more QA testers are trying to organize at Activision Blizzard. QA testers are leading the charge of unionization and their success can be a rallying point for all workers in the video game industry. As Ryan Claudy from Blizzard Albany explains, “our efforts here to unionize aren’t just for quality assurance. Of course that’s what we’re starting, but it’s not the goal. We would love for the whole studio to unionize. We would love for all of Activision Blizzard to unionize. We want the whole industry, because we want everybody to get better treatment and better wages.” Read more on Polygon.

Union efforts, unfair labor charges spike in US

The NLRB has seen the largest number of petitions filed in years. The petitions filed with the NLRB have increased by more than 50% this year to almost 2000. Although this is a great step forward for the labor movement — the number of workers who belong to a union today is almost half of what it was in the 80’s — the NLRB is not able to cope with the increased load. The NLRB has lost almost 40% of their overall staff since 2002, and have the lowest staffing levels in the last six decades. They also have almost 25% less money now than they did in 2010, and are asking for a 16% budget increase. “Our dedicated staff, especially in our 48 field offices, are handling unsustainable caseloads. The Agency urgently needs more resources to process petitions and conduct elections, investigate unfair labor practice charges, and obtain full remedies for workers whose labor rights have been violated,” said Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel for the NLRB. Read more on the Hill.

This Week in History

JULY 17 1944 –Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, Calif., killing 322, including 202 African-Americans assigned by the Navy to handle explosives. It was the worst home-front disaster of World War II. The resulting refusal of 258 African-Americans to return to the dangerous work underpinned the trial and conviction of 50 of the men in what is called the Port Chicago Mutiny.

Song of the Week

Babylon by The Interrupters

We're fighting with our brothers, and our sisters for our lives

Rebel against the kings of Babylon!

God made man, and man made kings

And the kings rule man, and they bring the suffering

When the people rise up, they see it as defiant

They wanna have control so you cant be self-reliant

If you play your role and don't get out of line

If you sell your soul, they will buy it for a dime

And sell it for a dollar, so they can turn a profit

It's a vicious cycle and the only way to stop it

Rebel against the kings of Babylon!





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