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CODE-CWA Press & Updates

Workers at Indie Game Studio Tender Claws Launch Union With the Communications Workers of America

22 Jul, 2022

(Los Angeles, CA) — Workers at Tender Claws, an award-winning art and games studio, have announced the launch of their union, Tender Claws Human Union/CWA, and filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. While the signatures have not been finalized, management has agreed to recognize TCHU-CWA pending a mutually acceptable agreement. The Tender Claws workers are the most recent group in the industry to form a union, following the Vodeo Workers United/CWA, the first certified video game union in North America, as well as workers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software and Blizzard Albany studios who formed the Game Workers Alliance/CWA. 

“Unfortunately, the video game industry sees a high rate of turnover. Studios constantly lose talent because workers are looking for better conditions and benefits. Tender Claws has been a special community for us, but we want it to be a workplace where we can thrive long-term,” said Robin LoBuglio, Game Programmer at Tender Claws. “Forming a union is a way for us to have an equal say in the decisions that affect us. By coming together as Tender Claws Human Union/CWA, we can continue growing as developers and making incredible experiences – while still living full human lives.” 

Tender Claws is an independent studio creating innovative games and experiences with a focus on narrative, live performance, and new technologies like virtual reality. They are known for making Virtual Virtual Reality, The Under Presents, and other award-winning titles. Tender Claws Human Union/CWA members include all eligible non-contractor staff across all job roles including artists, developers, engineers, QA testers, writers, and producers, who are spread all over the U.S. 

“The video game industry suffers from a dynamic where the majority of people working on these games have a minority of the decision-making power. This power imbalance can lead to issues like extended crunch times, which negatively impact workers' lives. Tender Claws and the game industry as a whole need unions so that workers can take a seat at the table to collaboratively address these issues. At Tender Claws we cultivate a culture of care, and forming our union is the natural next step in ensuring everyone's voices are heard,” said Liz Walcher, 3d Artist at Tender Claws.

Workers across the video game industry are banding together to reject crunch, burn out culture, and the lack of benefits needed to live a full life. Tender Claws Human Union/CWA, whose name is a nod to the union in their game Virtual Virtual Reality, reflects the push by workers to build power in non-traditional industries. The union efforts at both Tender Claws and Blizzard Albany showcase the shift by video game workers, whether in indie companies or AAA ones, to organize and positively shape their workplace and the games they create. 

“It has been a pleasure to witness this new energy of workers in the video game industry becoming trailblazers within the labor movement,” said CWA Local President Marisa Remski. “We welcome the members of Tender Claws Human Union as members of CWA local 9003 and look forward to helping them build and sustain worker power in their democratic union.” 

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Follow Tender Claws Human Union (CWA) at @TCHumanUnion

The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) is a network of worker-organizers and their staff working every single day to build the voice and power necessary to ensure the future of the tech, game, and digital industries in the United States and Canada. CODE-CWA is a project of the Communications Workers of America which represents hundreds of thousands of workers throughout tech, media, telecom, and other industries who stand together to fight for justice on the job and in our communities.

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