Skip to main content
CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: June 24

24 Jun, 2022

CODE-CWA Newsletter: June 24

"This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organize and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry,” said CWA President Chris Shelton on the ground-breaking Microsoft/CWA labor neutrality agreement.

Things are changing in the tech world. When Microsoft first announced that it had plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, there were some whispers about Microsoft not standing in the way of workers forming a union. The comments came around the time Game Workers Alliance (CWA) was fighting tooth and nail for recognition from Activision, despite having majority support. However, they were just words from another tech corporation, and nothing was concrete… Until now.

Last week, the tech giant emerged from negotiations with CWA, and agreed to a labor neutrality agreement. The basic foundation of the agreement means Microsoft will take a neutral approach when employees express interest in joining a union. This will enable workers to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation that will benefit Microsoft and its employees. In addition, if Microsoft cannot agree with the union on an issue, then we will have a system in place to resolve things. The terms set in the agreement will take place after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision in 2023 and will be legally binding.

There are probably many workers out there who still wonder if organizing will make a difference. Well, we are here to show you that it does. It seems surreal that a company as big as Microsoft would agree to let its workers freely join a union without interference if they choose so, but it happened. Forming a union is not achieved by one or two brave souls. It is achieved collectively by workers, who have organized to exercise and protect their labor rights under the law. At Raven Software, it was the collection of hardwork and effort by every single employee who fought for their rights. When it seems impossible to win, know that change is possible.

Look at Apple. The employees at Atlanta’s Apple retail store made the tough decision to pause their union vote due to the illegal union busting by Apple. However, their public show of solidarity in the face of one of the biggest corporations, helped and inspired employees at an Apple store in Towson, Maryland, who went on to win their vote and become the first unionized Apple store. We know their win will make a difference and push other workers to speak out and form a union. Organizing takes time, but it does make a difference. So don’t wait. Reach out!  

Trainings

On Saturday June 25, 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 Sunday June 26, 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 program for upcoming classes!

Worker News

CWA, Microsoft announce labor neutrality agreement

Last week, the Communications Workers of America entered a ground-breaking labor neutrality agreement with Microsoft. Previously Microsoft had said it would not stand in the way of unionization at Activision Blizzard, but this agreement puts those words into writing and makes it legally binding. The agreement will apply to Activision Blizzard workers if Microsoft's planned acquisition is approved (the projected merger is dated for 2023). The agreement will allow Activision Blizzard workers to freely and fairly form a union, ensure the Activision Blizzard acquisition benefits workers, and create a pathway to resolve disagreements between CWA and Activision Blizzard. Read more about this historic deal on the Washington Post.

Apple workers at Maryland store vote to unionize, a first in the U.S.

65 Apple workers at a store in Towson, Maryland voted in favor of unionizing under the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees. This is a first for an Apple store in the United States, and marks a turning point for the tech giant. As William Gould, a law professor at Stanford University said, “Workers gain interest and courage if workers elsewhere prevail. Many watch to see: Can workers succeed? Will they band together? If the answer is affirmative, it will encourage other workers to take a step toward collective bargaining.” Apple has been using anti union tactics against organizers, but workers are standing strong, in spite of adversity.. Read more on the New York Times.

Report: 79% of games industry workers support unionization

A majority of workers in the games industry would join a union after facing poor workplace conditions, according to a new report from the UNI Global Union. The report surveyed industry workers across 29 found countries, and the majority cited low pay, excessive work hours and discrimination as common issues. The report found that 66% of employees faced low pay and only 6% of employees were against unionization. "This ground-breaking report reveals global trends of recurrent employee dissatisfaction that make working in the digital entertainment industry unfair, unequal and unsustainable for many workers," said UNI Global Union general secretary Christy Hoffman. Read more on Game Industry Biz

Mapbox sued by labor regulators for firing union organizers

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a formal complaint against Mapbox demanding that it reinstate union organizers who were dismissed last year after the company busted the union, represented by CWA. Employees have expressed that Mapbox’s union busting suppressed easy and open communication in the workplace and hurt their efforts. They also believe the firings occurred as a form of retaliation. “To look at what company culture at this company had been a year ago versus what it is now, the vibrancy has just been sucked out of it,” said a Mapbox employee. Read more on Protocol.

SpaceX firings likely violate US labor law, experts say

SpaceX recently fired a group of employees for speaking up about the working conditions at the company. The workers crafted an open letter which asked for Musk to tone down his presence on twitter as well as having policies to reduce harassment in the workplace. The president of SpaceX also specifically said that the letter was the reason for termination in a note to the employees. This note allows the workers to have a strong case, if they decide to file a suit. Many also hope that the declining working conditions at the company will spark a unionization effort. As the CWA said in a statement, “Elon Musk says he’s committed to free speech - except when his employees are exercising their legally protected right to speak out about their working conditions. We hope this will be a rallying point for workers at SpaceX, just like it was at Google and Activision.” Read more on The Verge.


This Week in History

JUNE 25 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act passes Congress, banning child labor and setting the 40-hour work week.

JUNE 26 1894Members of the American Railway Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, refuse to handle Pullman cars in solidarity with Pullman strikers. Two dozen strikers were killed over the course of the strike.

Song of the Week

Re-Education (Through Labor) by Rage Against

To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away

To the rhythm of the awful, rusting machines

We toss and turn but don't sleep

Each breath we take makes us thieves

Like causes without rebels

Just talk but promise nothing else

We crawl on our knees for you

Under a sky no longer blue

We sweat all day long for you

But we sow seeds to see us through

'Cause sometimes dreams just don't come true

We wait to reap what we are due



GROUNDBREAKING NEWS!

WORKERS AT INDIE GAME STUDIO VODEO GAMES WIN FIRST CERTIFIED VIDEO GAME WORKER UNION IN NORTH AMERICA!

vodeounionscreenshot.png

GET INVOLVED!

Check out our upcoming CODE-CWA trainings!

code_training_and_events_preview_2.png