CODE-CWA Newsletter: October 28
CODE-CWA Newsletter: October 28
"I want this to become a labor movement,” said Patrick Hart, Member of Apple Retail Union/CWA. “We’re going to be that catalyst for people.”
Labor organizers have been making headway all over the US across various industries. Starbucks started with an initial victory in Buffalo, NY, and now has hundreds of unionized stores across the country. Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, and Amazon have also seen a start of unionization. Now, another Apple store has been unionized making it the second out of 272 stores within the country. This is a big deal. As the world's most valuable company, it shows the world that worker organizing can happen anywhere. Employers are worried, but most importantly, workers are excited, because any victory could be a catalyst for a wave of unionization.
Two years ago, there were no unions in the U.S. gaming industry. Last year, we saw the first ever union at Vodeo games, followed by the first union in a AAA game studio at Raven studios. Now QA testers at Blizzard Albany may become the second group to unionize at Activision Blizzard with CWA. In April, Vicarious Visions merged with Activision Blizzard to become Blizzard Albany. Since merging the QA testers at Albany have been inspired by the unionization of their counterparts in Raven studios. The company has tried to break up the QA testers, but were unsuccessful. The NLRB has sided with the QA testers and allowed them to vote as a group.
These victories were no easy feat. In fact, there was a lot of struggle. CWA has had to file numerous unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against both Activision and Apple for union-busting and violating workers’ rights. The truth is - going up against multi-billion dollar companies will always be difficult, but it all makes a difference. Every action, fight and struggle has helped the cause and has made it easier for others looking to change their working conditions. So keep pushing forward. Keep fighting. Let’s Organize! Reach out!
On Sunday October 30th join us for an organizer training at 4 PM ET/ 1 PM PT 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!
Apple Store in Oklahoma City Becomes Second to Unionize in US, First Apple Store Represented by CWA
Apple employees at a store in Penn Square Mall, Oklahoma City, have voted to unionize with CWA. This is the second Apple store in the U.S. to unionize, after a store in Maryland voted in June. The employees have unionized for a variety of reasons including a lack of direction and no communication with the employees. There has also been pay disparities and no clear path to promotion. As Michael Forsythe, an employee who was involved in organizing explains, "some people have been in their current roles for years trying to get promoted and are not really getting anywhere, but whenever they get feedback on an interview for a promotion what they get is very subjective goals." These reasons contribute to how a group of 20 were able to mobilize more than 70% of their store’s workforce and ultimately win. Apple has used surveillance, threats, mandatory anti-union meetings, and interrogations to try and bust the union. Ultimately Apple was unsuccessful and this victory paves the way for other stores across the country. As Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of CWA said, “Apple retail workers across the country will continue to organize, especially after this momentous victory.” Read more on the New York Times and on Bloomberg
Communications Workers of America File Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Activision Ahead of Blizzard Albany Union Election
CWA has filed another unfair labor practice charge against Activision Blizzard. The latest charge was due to a company wide slack message sent by Lulu Cheng Meservy– Activision Blizzard's chief communications officer. On October 18th, Merservy addressed almost 18,000 workers in the #ABK-press slack room with anti-union propaganda and right-wing talking points. Specifically, Meservy made threats to withhold raises & benefit improvements from union workers, gave employees an impression that their union affiliation was under surveillance, and disparaged the union. Workers in the group were not allowed to respond through text, and resorted to downvoting the post. According to Shannon Liao, a journalist for the Washington Post, "Activision Blizzard chief communications officer Lulu Cheng Meservy told employees on Slack that Unionization is time-consuming and could prevent employees from getting raises until a deal is reached. She was met with negative emojis." This is the fourth ongoing unfair labor practice charge filed with the NLRB. CWA believes that Merservy's tactics violated worker's rights. Read more on Polygon.
Quality Assurance Workers at Blizzard Albany get greenlight for Union Vote
The National Labor Relations Board has sided with the quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany on their desire to unionize as a group. Just like at Raven studios, Activision Blizzard had been trying to break up the Albany quality assurance testers to dilute the votes. The company's lawyers tried to argue that the QA testers do not constitute a group because they work on different games. According to labor experts, companies also frequently try to increase the size of the bargaining unit, so that the union vote is less likely to succeed. Activision Blizzard tried this, however the NLRB dismissed both tactics used by the company. "It's about time. Our QA testers are some of the most talented and skilled people working in our company, and they are critically undervalued by corporate. I think all games workers need a union, but QA is in especially dire need," said a current Blizzard Albany employee . In fact, according to the NLRB, the associate test analysts can earn $41,995 a year whilst employees in other departments earn up to $175,050. It was this disparity in income that helped influence the NLRB's decision in favor of the QA testers. Eligible employees will have until the 17th of November to submit their Ballots for the union vote. The ballots will be counted on the 18th. Read more on the Washington Post
This Week in History
OCTOBER 24 1940 –The 40-hour work week goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by President Roosevelt two years earlier.
October 27 1951 – The National Labor Council is formed in Cincinnati to unite Black workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies.
Song of the Week
We'll march 'till we drop
The girls and the fellas.
We'll fight 'till the death
Or else fold like umbrellas.
So we'll march day and night
By the big cooling tower.
They have the plant
But we have the power.