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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 17

CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 17

“We are ready to take on a more active role in determining the conditions of our work to ensure a better quality of life for ourselves, and a better quality of service for our customers. We’re excited to finally have a seat at the table, a real voice on the job, and the protections provided by our union to ensure fairness and dignity in the workplace,” said Jennifer Bonham, a worker at TCGPlayer and member of TCGUnion-CWA.

On Friday, about 272 authentication workers at TCGPlayer, a subsidiary of eBay—voted in favor of their union TCGUnion-CWA. This win comes on the heels of successful card and tabletop organizing at various companies including Card Kingdom, Bellevue Mox Boarding House, Noble Knight Games and Paizo. The workers, known as TCGUnion-CWA, are the first group of eBay workers to win union representation in the U.S.

On top of this historic win, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that a group of Youtube music workers working to secure union representation with Alphabet Workers Union/CWA, are in fact employed by both Google and Cognizant Technology Solutions. Since Google has substantial control over the workers, the tech giant is liable for the treatment of the workers and must be present at the bargaining table if and when Youtube music workers win their union election. Although Google has plans to appeal, this has the potential to be a historic victory not only in the tech sector, but for the US labor movement as a whole.

For far too long, billion-dollar companies like Google and eBay have tipped the scales in their favor. Greedy CEOs have skirted labor laws while refusing to give their employees the decent wages and benefits they deserve to live a dignified life. But worker victories are possible and you do not have to go at it alone. You have a community of like minded individuals with a common goal of making your working conditions better for all. Reach out

CODE-CWA at the Game Developers Conference

We’re back at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this year! If you’re attending, please stop by our booth for information about how to organize your workplace, CODE-CWA swag, and the unveiling of the new level of our “Super Anti-Union Campaign Simulator.” We’ll also have CWA workshops alongside newly unionized video game workers on crunch, workplace protections and more. Hope to see you there! 


On Sunday, March 19th 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 Sunday March 26th 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

eBay Finally Has Its First Worker Union in 27 Years

Workers at TCGPlayer, a trading card marketplace owned by eBay, have successfully voted to unionize. The 272 workers in the authentication department will be represented by CWA, and are the first collection of eBay workers in the US to successfully unionize. “We strongly believe that by joining together to form our union we can make TCGPlayer a more equitable workplace where Authentication Center workers can thrive for years to come,” said Jennifer Bonham. Worried about potential deteriorating working conditions after TCGPlayer was acquired by eBay for $295 million, the employees, with the help of CWA, decided to organize. During the weeks leading up to the NLRB union election, workers filed a series of unfair labor practice charges against the company including for surveilling pro-union workers as TCGPlayer ramped up their anti-union campaign. It was not easy but the workers kept fighting, and pulled through. As Paul Neri, a TCGPlayer worker expressed “This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever fought for, but knowing that my colleagues came out in droves to stand together against efforts to silence our voice and erase our collective power made the fight worth it. With our new union, we will be a united force for the betterment of our workplace and so many others.” Now that the workers have won with a strong majority, they are looking forward to collectively bargain for a contract. Read more on VICE and CWA

NLRB says Alphabet is an Employer of YouTube Contractors, Must Negotiate If Contract Staff Unionize

In October, the Alphabet Workers Union, which is affiliated with CWA, petitioned to represent about 60 employees at Cognizant. After months of pushing Alphabet to acknowledge that it exercises direct control over many of its subcontractors and their workers, the National Labor Relations Board issued a statement that agrees Alphabet has direct involvement in the working conditions of YouTube Music Content Operations workers, who are employed through Cognizant Technology Solutions. A US Labor board official concluded that by being able to control the workers’ hours, direction of work, supervision, and benefits, Google should be regarded as a joint employer of those employees. Consequently, the director ruled that Google should be liable for the treatment of the workers and also must be present on the bargaining table. Both companies will sit across from Alphabet Workers Union/CWA members at the negotiating table when they win their upcoming union certification vote. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has been known to rely on staffing firms and contract workers. In fact, in 2018, a majority of Alphabet’s workforce were contract workers. This decision could inspire workers from all over to unionize, and Google would have to take responsibility. Although Google plans to appeal, the workers are elated and hopeful for the future. As Sam Regan, a YouTube Music contract worker with Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA said, “we are proud to win a precedent setting victory not just for ourselves, but also for workers across the country, where technology companies in particular have innovated new ways to deny responsibility for their workers’ livelihoods through subcontracting, gig work, and other poor employment practices.” If the ruling stands, it could set a precedent across industries. From healthcare to hospitality and from construction to tech, companies that use contract workers could be responsible and liable for them. Read more on Bloomberg

eBay-owned TCGPlayer Illegally Fired Employee for Union Activity, CWA files Unfair Labor Practice Charge

In response to TCGUnion-CWA’s historic election, management has escalated its anti-union war against workers by firing a worker for union activity just one business day after TCGPlayer employees overwhelmingly voted for union representation. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against eBay-owned TCGPlayer on behalf of employee Iris St. Lucy. This is the fourth unfair labor practice charge CWA has filed against the company in the last two months. The other three charges are for illegally surveilling pro-union employees, threatening workers for showing union support, and interrogation. Employees were also forced to attend captive audience meetings, and were singled out for wearing union clothes or other paraphernalia. “Not only are eBay and TCGPlayer violating labor law, the company is undermining its workers’ rights to union representation, fair wages, dignity on the job and the ability to support their families. TCGPlayer needs to stop these attacks and commit to bargaining a contract in good faith.” said CWA secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens. The 272 workers and CWA are waiting on the decisions by the NLRB. Read more here

Unions are expanding the playing field for workers’ rights

For workers from traditionally non-unionized fields such as the video games industry, arts and museums, and restaurants, unionization offers hope for a better workplace where workers can earn a living without fear of exploitation. It provides the chance to negotiate with employers on equal terms to figure out how to get a job done together with respect for both parties. “It is one person making a decision and saying that they want to see a change in their workplace and then having that conversation with other people and saying, ‘Do you also want to make a change here?’” said Zachary Armstrong, member of Zenimax Workers United/CWA. “And then seeing that conversation turn into a movement across your location and across all the locations that are in your company.” Regardless of whether one is working in a customer-facing industry, a white-collar profession, a corporate setting, or a small business, unionization starts with the process of building relationships. Read more here


This Week in History

March 18 1970 – The Post Office’s first mass work stoppage in 195 years begins in Brooklyn and Manhattan and spreads to 210,000 of the nation’s 750,000 postal employees. Mail service is virtually paralyzed in several cities, and President Nixon declares a state of emergency. A settlement comes after two weeks.


Song of the Week

Worker’s Song by the Dropkick Murphys

Yeah, this one's for the workers who toil night and day

By hand and by brain to earn your pay


We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die

The first ones in line for that pie in the sky

And we're always the last when the cream is shared out

For the worker is working when the fat cat's about