CODE-CWA Newsletter: September 2
CODE-CWA Newsletter: September 2
We will never be able to redefine expectations if we are only meeting the bar in certain areas, we have to be the company that is constantly setting that bar higher and higher for its soul—the workers. We believe Apple’s ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough for us, and it never will be unless we have a seat at the table,” said Patrick Hart, member of Apple Retail Union/CWA
We have some big news to start off Labor Day Weekend! Yesterday, Apple retail workers at the Apple Penn Square location in Oklahoma City filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, adding to the growing trend of Apple retail workers across the United States seeking union recognition. We’re stoked to have these workers join the Apple Retail Union and become members of our CWA family.
The world is constantly changing, and technological innovation is propelling the world in an unprecedented way, but labor standards have often lagged in the tech sector. Companies like Apple, Google, and Twitter — especially the people who run them — have amassed great power, but workers have not been given their share. Instead, these “innovative” companies have used their power to exploit workers, use their technology to wage wars, and influence policy that favors corporations over people. Having more unions in tech would not only benefit the workers, but the entire world. Unionizing the tech industry would allow workers to leverage their power to make a difference. This is because the workers are the foundation of these businesses and help keep the wheel turning. If they had a say in what the company was able to do, we could mitigate the harms these massive corporations are set out to do, while raising the standard for all workers.
Almost every 3 out of 4 Americans approve of labor unions, and 40% of union members feel their membership is extremely important. The NLRB has received 57% more union petitions in the first half of 2021, and the $200 billion dollar video game industry is organizing at a rate never seen before in its history. Workers are realizing the value of organizing and how together they can make a difference. Do not stop organizing, and do not give up. This is the year of worker power, and it is here to stay. Organize! Reach out!
Happy Labor Day weekend!
On Saturday September 10th join us for an organizer training at 3 PM ET/ 12 PM 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 September 18, join us for a building the committee training at 3 PM ET/ 12 PM PT where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!
Workers at Apple Retail Store in Oklahoma City File for Union Election with Communications Workers of America
A majority of retail workers at the Apple Penn Square store in Oklahoma City filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. OKC Apple workers form the Penn Square labor alliance, which will be a branch of the Apple Retail Union/CWA, are excited to go public and begin the process to become recognized or certified through an election. “I do really love the company,” worker and Apple Retail Union/CWA member Michael Forsythe said. “There are changes that I do know need to happen, but I don’t believe it’s necessarily with our direct managers. I see this as a thing between the workers and Big Apple.” Moving forward, OKC Apple Retail Union/CWA members hope management will allow them to vote for their union without interference and come to the table to hold transparent contract negotiations that will ensure workers are protected and receive fair returns for their work. Workers are determined to follow the precedent set by workers in Maryland, who became the first certified Apple union in the United States this past June. Read more on Bloomberg and follow these workers on Twitter!
U.S. Approval of Labor Unions at Highest Point Since 1965
71% of Americans approve of labor unions. This is the highest approval rating since 1965, with an overall maximum of 75% in the 50’s. For the first 6 months of 2021, the NLRB also received a 57% increase in union election petitions. The pandemic increased the approval and organizing of unions largely due to the low unemployment rate and shift of focus for employees everywhere. 58% percent of union members also rated their membership as important or higher. Another 2022 poll by Gallup aimed to measure the various reasons for an employee to join a union. Each participant was asked to give their 3 most important reasons. The top 3 are (in order): better pay and benefits, employee representation/ rights, and job security. Employers are pushing back, but non-union employees are more likely to leave their current job, with 50% actively looking for a new job. Read more here
Not Playing Around: QA Testers at Blizzard Albany Organize with CODE-CWA
Inspired by the recent victory at Raven Software, quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany are organizing withCODE-CWA. QA work typically entails long hours, particularly as a game’s release date nears. Crunch is when workers have to work extra shifts and it's one of the most prominent cases of abuse in the industry. “I remember at least three or four months of 50-plus hours every week, 10-hour days and weekend work,” said Albany GWA member Amanda. “There were folks who had existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression that were exacerbated (by the long hours), There were folks who hadn’t been diagnosed with any mental health conditions but started experiencing symptoms of depression.”
Workers at Blizzard Albany are forming a union to improve work-life balance, fair compensation, and improved benefits, as well as open communication between employees and ABK. Although workers are expecting a fight, workers at Activision are prepared for the tactic the company has already thrown at other studios. Emma Kinema, a prominent voice in labor organizing and senior campaign lead with CODE-CWA said “The more and more we organize these different units across North America, being able to share that knowledge across the campaigns and having those workers learning from each other is definitely the key to weathering whatever kinds of boss tactics come down the road.” Read more here
Video Game and Tech Workers ‘Drop the U-Word’
“By unionizing tech, we can leverage our collective power to improve the world. Imagine if we refused to use our skills to exploit gig workers, target kids with in-game purchases, or wage wars,”said Robin LoBuglio, member of Tender Claws Human Union/CWA. There were almost no unionized employees in the entire games and tech industry before 2020, and now there are more than 3000 in CWA alone. In 2020 CWA put their foothold in the industry under their Campaign to Organize Digital Employees. In 2021 the first game workers union was successfully formed in North America. Today, the gaming market is a $200 billion industry, but the people working in it are not so lucky. “From Google to Activision Blizzard, our workplaces are divided between full-time employees and an underclass of temps, vendors, and contractors. Work-life balance is notoriously poor for both groups due to “crunch,” long stretches of overtime in the months or years before the launch of new software. And harassment and discrimination run rampant in workplaces traditionally dominated by straight white men,” said LoBuglio. Read more here
Workers of Mox Boarding House Bellevue Win Union Election with Communication Workers of America (CWA)
Workers at a Magic: The Gathering retailer won their union election. The workers at Mox Boarding house Bellevue joined forces with Card Kingdom (another Magic: The Gathering retailer) and started their union drive in May. In a statement by the group, they said, “We find ourselves crowded together, splitting cramped apartments, working second jobs, and skipping meals just to barely make rent. Stories of being harassed, cornered, and harshly judged by management have become normal. In our attempts to resolve these issues, if our efforts aren’t just outright ignored, we encountered stonewall tactics and numerous other forms of delays or denial.” The Workers of Mox boarding house partnered with the Communications Workers of America and gave their company until June 24th to voluntarily recognize the union, and were finally certified by late August. According to the group “Ultimately, we have chosen unionization because we believe in our values, our shared space, and each other.” Read more here
"Unions Are Cool Again": a New Generation of Workers Advocates for Unionization
The last year has seen a surge of unionization. Unlike the decades before, where the number of people belonging to a labor union were slowly dropping, the movement is now on the rise. Tech companies like Apple and Google; media organizations like The New York Times and Condé Nast; other groups like grad students, delivery drivers and baristas, all have unionization efforts underway. "The pandemic also created a labor shortage, which gave people more leverage, and made them less fearful of organizing. Unions are cool again for this generation," said Ruth Milkman, a labor expert and professor at the City University of New York. Even the second largest employer in the US (Amazon) had a large warehouse unionize. More than 8000 workers at that facility joined the Amazon Labor Union in a historic win for the country. The union drive was led by former Amazon employee Chris Smalls, who said, “I had no intentions on unionizing. Just trying to do the right things, and protect people from dying from COVID-19.” Read more on CBS News
Google Employee Who Played Key Role in Protest of Contract with Israel Quits
An AWU/CWA member who's been speaking up about Google's AI contract with Israel, was forced to resign today after Google's ultimatum: move overseas or leave. Ariel Koren, a Jewish marketing manager for Google came under fire for speaking up against the company’s contract with Israel. The contract pertains to a Google project known as Nimbus — a $1.2 billion agreement to supply the Israeli military with computing services and artificial intelligence. 15 other workers also joined Koren and spoke up about the censorship of employees and the company’s treatment of Palestinians. “Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear,” wrote Koren in her resignation letter. After speaking up she was forced to relocate to Brazil. Google has a history of retaliating against workers who speak out. This has left many to be fearful of expressing their concerns. One employee said “Project Nimbus makes me feel like I am making my living off my family’s oppression.” Read more on the New York Times
This Week in History
SEPTEMBER 1 1894 – Congress declares Labor Day a national holiday.
September 2, 1954 – President Eisenhower signs legislation expanding Social Security by providing much wider coverage and including 10 million additional Americans, most of them self-employed farmers, with additional benefits.
SEPTEMBER 4 1991 – In what many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walk out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, Calif., after the company refused to restore a 30-percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company. The two sides ultimately agreed to a new contract after 14 years.
Song of the Week
When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one
But the union makes us strong
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong