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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

CODE-CWA Newsletter: May 27

27 May, 2022

CODE-CWA Newsletter: May 27

“Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values and empower all of us. We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract,” - members of Game Workers Alliance (CWA).

Raven Quality assurance workers celebrated a historic win. On Monday, Game Workers Alliance (CWA) won their union election by a landslide and became the first certified union at Activision Blizzard. Already we have seen how a successful union drive at a Starbucks location led to workers organizing at Amazon, Apple and other massive companies. This sets a similar precedent for all workers in the tech industry and makes it easier for anyone who is not fully convinced. Already QA testers at Keywords Studios (Bioware contractors) are following suit and are trying to unionize.  

Activision Blizzard, like many major companies, employed anti-union tactics. They intimidated staff, held mandatory anti-union meetings, restricted employees rights on social media, and tried to disband the QA testers. In each case Activision Blizzard lost, and lawmakers are starting to stand up with the workers. President Biden held a meeting with labor organizers in the white house. Senators like Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders have been vocal about being pro-union and supporting workers. Now lawyers for the NLRB want to make it illegal to hold mandatory anti-union meetings. The labor movement is gaining momentum, but ultimately you have to decide to fight for change. If workers at multi-billion dollar video game corporations can successfully organize, then so can you! We at CWA are ready to help and organize with you. Reach out!  


On Sunday May 29th, 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. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!

Worker News

Raven Software QA workers win union vote

Quality Assurance workers at Activision’s Raven Software video game studio won their union election and will be represented by the Communications Workers of America. 86% of the votes were in support of the union. The workers, known as Game Workers Alliance (CWA), are the first group to win union representation at Activision Blizzard and the first certified AAA video game studio in North America to form a union. Sara Steffens, the secretary-treasurer of the C.W.A. said, “these workers will soon have an enforceable union contract and a voice on the job.” Workers are more than ready to enter contract negotiations and win a fair contract with the help of CWA. Read more onThe New York Times and Polygon

Biggest Indie Manga Publisher in US Hopes to Become Industry’s First to Unionize

Workers at one of the largest independent manga publishers in the U.S. have announced their plans to form a union with Communications Workers of America—making them the first manga company to do so. 30 out of 40 total employees signed a statement and announced the formation of the United Workers of Seven Seas (In affiliation with CWA). “We find ourselves overworked, underpaid, and inadequately supported, furthermore, we do not receive the vacation, sick days, family leave, health insurance, and retirement benefits otherwise typical of the publishing industry,” read a statement by UW7S. Read more on Vice

The Activision Blizzard union vote could signal a big change in the video game world

QA testers at Raven studios just won a vote to form their union: the Game Workers Alliance (CWA). The historic win marks the second video game union in the US. The first was Vodeo Workers United (CWA). The drive to unionize was largely because of the poor working conditions at Activision Blizzard and “frat boy” culture.” Secretary-treasurer of CWA, Sara Steffens said, “They have repetitive stress injuries, eye strain, other occupational health issues. And then there's been a lot of sexual harassment and discrimination at this employer as well.” The union also sets a precedent for video game workers all across the country that having a union on the job is possible. Read more on NPR

Activision Blizzard worker committee demands anti-discrimination reform

In an effort to create a safe work environment at Activision and ensure that company management fulfills its obligations under its consent decree with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, a group of current and former Activision employees today announced the formation of the Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination and released a set of demands. Included in the list of demands were having all chats with Human Resources documented, private lactation rooms, the creation of an employee trans network, and ending retaliation against employees who file complaints. “It is clear to workers that the only way to expedite the necessary culture and policy shifts within the company is to actively organize to reshape things internally. Now, more than ever management must mitigate potential harms and implement these demands to support all workers.” explains Kara Fannon, a QA Functional Tester. This drive comes after the recent successful unionization effort at Raven studios. Read more on theWashington Post and Kotaku  

Activision Illegally Threatened Staff, Labor Officials Find

Prosecutors at the US Labor Board have determined that Activision Blizzard has violated labor law. They are charged with threatening employees and violating employees’ social media rights. Now CWA has filed another complaint against the company for threatening workers who speak publicly about protected issues. “In order to rebuild trust at Activision, Bobby Kotick needs to take the high road and start listening to workers instead of doing everything possible - including breaking the law - to silence them,” said CWA’s organizing director Tom Smith. Read more on Bloomberg and Protocol

Former Activision Blizzard employee appeals $18 million harassment settlement

A former Activision employee is appealing the $18 million sexual harassment and discrimination settlement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Activision Blizzard on the grounds of workers potentially losing their rights under state law and the court’s decision to ignore objections made by impacted employees. Under the current EEOC settlement, workers who apply to be claimants would be barred from suing Activision Blizzard for future settlements—essentially protecting the company from any future legal accountability. In addition the current payout would allow only 60 employees to receive the maximum settlement. “Over the past year Activision Blizzard has skated on thin ice on multiple allegations and somehow gotten away with it. This paltry settlement makes it crystal clear that the only way for workers to secure a safe work environment is to have an active role shaping policies and internal accountability mechanisms moving forward,” said Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America. Read more on Engadget

Apple Is Union-Busting

Apple is union busting by interrogating staff, requiring attendance to anti-union speeches and by blocking the use of union flyers. “When we learn about Apple violating the law, we try our best to defend workers’ rights. It’s time for them to just back off and allow workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want a union,” said Tim Dubnau, Deputy Organizing Director at CWA. Even though Apple has not directly commented on this incident, their actions follow a long line of companies who have employed union busting tactics— including Starbucks and Amazon. Things look hopeful however, as Jennifer Abruzzo— the NLRB’s general council— is trying to pursue cases that would make captive audience meetings illegal. Read more onBloomberg

This Week in History

MAY 29 1941 – Animators working for Walt Disney begin what was to become a successful five-week strike for recognition of their union, the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild. The animated feature Dumbo was being created at the time and, according to Wikipedia, a number of strikers are caricatured in the feature as clowns who go to “hit the big boss for a raise.”

MAY 28 1946 - Over 30,000 workers join a strike in Rochester N.Y. in support of workers who were fired for unionizing

Song of the Week

Bread and Roses by Judy Collins

Small art and love and beauty

Their drudging spirits knew

Yes, it is bread we fight for

But we fight for roses too

As we go marching, marching

We bring the greater days

For the rising of the women

Means the rising of the race

No more the drudge and idler

Tender toil where one reposes

But the sharing of lives glories

Bread and roses, bread and roses

(Bread and roses, bread and roses)



MWWC 7055



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