CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 15

CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 15

“Make no mistake, all credit for Activision Blizzard’s latest move to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time employment and a raise should go to the workers who have been organizing, mobilizing and speaking out. It’s especially galling then that Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits… Activision’s disingenuous announcement is further evidence of the need for workers to have a protected voice on the job..” - CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens on Activision’s announced benefits and pay increase for QA workers

Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in months of controversy over allegations of sexual assault and several lawsuits. It has been sued by the Equal Opportunity and Employment commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, shareholders, as well as several employees. CEO Bobby Kotic has been asked to resign, employees have staged several walkouts, and QA testers at Raven formed the Game Workers Alliance union in collaboration with CWA. The Raven QA testers were able to organize and fight for better working conditions that gave 1,100 temp workers full time jobs at the company. This momentous milestone is proof of how unionizing can create a positive impact in the workplace.

Tech workers historically have not been unionized. Union Busting tactics, misinformation, and stereotypes contribute to this lack of organizing in the industry. However, studies show workers would benefit greatly from this. A Computer World analysis in 2020 showed that compared to white workers the salary for Latinx workers was 26% lower, and Black workers fared worse, earning 30% less than their white counterparts. In the tech industry also earn less on average. An analysis by the New York City Comptroller showed amongst software developers women earned 28.3% less on average compared to white males in similar positions. These inequality gaps are one of the many reasons unions are beneficial. With collective bargaining agreements, unions can fight for equal wages, and ensure everybody gets equal pay for equal work. Unions can also make sure you do not get fired for speaking out or sharing information amongst your peers.

If you are part of a big corporation in the industry, you would have seen union busting tactics. Companies try to undermine the rights that workers like you deserve. They give the impression that unions are for coal miners and you are better without them. Let CWA set the record straight. Unions make a difference! They are for anyone who feels they deserve better working conditions. If you want to improve the conditions at your workplace, contact CWA. We are ready to help and organize with you. Reach out!

Trainings

On April 23rd, join us for an organizer training at 11 AM 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

Activision Blizzard Is Raising Pay For QA Testers, Excludes Raven QA Workers

Activision Blizzard announced that all temporary and contingent QA workers are being converted to full-time employees — meaning nearly 1,100 temp game testers are getting full-time jobs with benefits and a new minimum hourly rate of $20. This increase and conversion wouldn’t have been possible without the organizing of Activision Blizzard workers (A Better ABK) who have been fighting back against the company’s egregious policies for months. Still, Raven Software workers, who began the process of forming a union called the Game Workers Alliance, with the Communications Workers of America, were noticeably left out of the pay bump. The company has pushed a very common anti-union claim that it cannot include the Raven QA testers for legal reasons. However, according to Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer for the Communications Workers of America,“The company's assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their effort to form a union (Game Workers Alliance - CWA)." Read more on Protocol and The Verge.

What Happens When Twelve Thousand Game Developers Converge?

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is an annual event where people in the gaming industry, like developers, writers and engineers, converge to discuss various topics in gaming, from sound design to unionization. In the GDC, unionization has been on people’s minds since the early 90’s, but recently unionization has become a forefront of discussion. As Nick Suttner, an independent developer, who has been attending the conference for 17 years points out,“that’s the universal struggle of people making games, and it’s easy to feel alone doing it, even with a team. A lot of people’s personal lives have been chaotic the last few years. The world is a tough place to be right now. People are a lot more forthcoming about things like mental-health struggles, and making games sustainably.” Before the conference, People Make Games, a popular youtube show, released a report on the emotionally abusive behavior by certain independent studio heads. This year CWA also set up our first ever stall at the GDC, with a message of being better together. The delightfully decorated booth was a pleasant sight for many, and even featured an arcade game called the Super Anti-Union Campaign Simulator. Kris Lorischild, a former journalist, game writer said “I think a lot more people in the indie space are talking openly about unionization because they feel free to.” Read more on The New Yorker.

Google Quietly Committed To Silenced No More Protections For All Employees.

States like California, and dWashington are going to require employers to introduce certain legal protections in their NDAs under the Silenced No More act. Google has faced pressure from shareholders to introduce such protections in their own contracts. In an official proxy statement Google announced employees could talk about harassement, discrimination, sexual assult or retaliation despite signing NDA’s. Ifeoma Ozoma, a former Pinterest employee, along with her coalition have been a driving force behind the Google shareholder proposal. According to Ozoma, “they [Google] have to know that most workers do not pay attention to the annual meeting/proxy season.” However, by detailing the changes in an SEC filing, Google can be held legally accountable. Read more on Protocol.

Amazon’s Warehouse Workers Unionized. Its Tech Workers Should, Too

Amazon’s warehouse workers in Staten Island recently voted to unionize in a historic win in the labor movement. Amazon tech workers would also benefit greatly from Unionizing. Especially in the tech industry, minority workers often face significantly less pay than other workers in similar positions. Companies employ union busting tactics and over time have created the impression that unions are only for working class people. However, by unionizing, collective bargaining agreements would allow equal wages for the same work, giving all workers a fair compensation no matter who they are. Unionizing also gives workers protections, added job security, and a voice to speak up about issues that matter to them. Read more on the San Francisco Chronicle.

This Week in History

April 11 1997 – Some 25,000 marchers in Watsonville, Calif., show support for United Farm Workers organizing campaign among strawberry workers, others.

April 16 1916 – Employers lock out 25,000 New York City garment workers in a dispute over hiring practices. The Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union calls a general strike; after 14 weeks, 60,000 strikers win union recognition and the contractual right to strike.

Song of the Week

This Little Light of Mine, Sung by Fannie Lou Hamer

I’ve got the light of freedom.

I’m going to let it shine.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.