CODE-CWA Newsletter: January 7

CODE-CWA Newsletter: January 7

“We were really inspired by what a lot of our colleagues were doing in the game industry and the tech industry and beyond — Voltage Organized Workers, United Paizo Workers … there was a lot going on. It felt like a natural next step for us to be talking about, ‘Hey, maybe we should be unionizing,’ and help set a positive precedent for the digital games industry as well,” - Vodeo designer Carolyn Jong and Vodeo Workers United (CWA) member.

Happy New Year!

Across the US, the pandemic has energized the labor movement, pushing workers to fight for better and more equitable conditions. More workers are organizing their workplace. In fact, workers made history when Vodeo Game Studio became the first certified video game union in North America with CODE-CWA. This win was a sweet ending to our banner year of organizing, which included 10 NEW unions of tech, digital, and game workers! If 2021 is any indication of what’s to come, then we know 2022 is going to be the year of the worker.

We at CWA have been tirelessly working to improve the lives of workers and fight for change. We organized the first certified video game union in North America and helped countless others. CWA also helped Comic Book Workers United win their union and now they’re officially the first comic book union in the United States. We currently represent over 700,000 workers across America and it’s clear our organizing is making a difference.

Finally, we’re HIRING! CODE-CWA is looking for talented Campaign Leads and Senior Campaign Leads for our growing team. These are fantastic opportunities for seasoned union organizers looking to drive transformational change in tech, game development , and digital industries.

Only together can we prevail, for there is strength in numbers. If you want to show your support, consider organizing. We at CWA are ready to help and organize with you. Believe us. Reach out.


On January 15, join us for an organizer training at 1PM PST where we talk about union basics, the CWA organizing models, and some key ways to connect with co-workers through organizing. You can also attend our class on building a committee on January 22 at 1 PM PST. Check our calendar for future events.

Worker News

North America has its first video game union at Vodeo Games with CWA

Workers at Vodeo Games have completed a major milestone. They have successfully created North America’s first certified workers union in the game development industry. Vodeo Workers United (CWA) has organized with CODE-CWA and has received voluntary recognition from Vodeo management. “They’re not organizing because there’s some big scary boss, like Bobby Kotick or someone…they’re organizing because they care so much about the work they do, and they want more of a say over how it’s done — the conditions in which they work to actually make those games that they care about,” said Emma Kinema the Senior Campaign Lead for CODE-CWA. This sets a precedent for workers all across North America, especially in the video game industry. The workers are following in the footsteps of other game industry workers such as United Paizo Workers (CWA) and Voltage Organized Workers (CWA), and will begin contract negotiations soon. Read more on Polygon and follow @VodeoWorkers for updates.

AWU-CWA Members in Google Fiber Seek Union Vote and Direct Negotiations With Alphabet

“We kind of feel like once we’re contracted out, Alphabet just forgot about us. We want to feel like we have a voice and some kind of say in our working conditions, and feel like we matter a little bit more,” said Emrys Adair, an Alphabet Employee and AWU-CWA member. Alphabet contract workers have formally unionized as AWU-CWA, but they don’t have bargaining rights with Alphabet as an employer. Google Fiber vendor workers argue that Alphabet is a joint employer and should engage in negotiations. Workers for Google Fiber in Kansas City have joined AWU-CWA, and have requested the National Labor Relations Board to hold a unionization vote. If successful, their union would force Alphabet to negotiate at the bargaining table and set a precedent for all Alphabet workers across the US. Read more on Bloomberg.

Image Comics Becomes First Unionized Comic Book Publisher in US with CWA

Comic Book Workers United (CWA) have won their union election, making Image Comics the FIRST unionized comic book publisher in the United States. This is a huge win for unionizing the arts and a momentous moment for CWA as we welcome them into our union family. Read more on Gizmodo and follow @CBWUPDX for updates.

Why Game and Tech Workers Must Organize Unions

Emma Kinema helped found Game Workers Unite in 2018 and helped organize the Riot employee walkout in 2019. Since then, Kinema has helped countless employees organize at tech and video game companies across the country and is currently the Senior Campaign Lead at CODE-CWA. In an op-ed for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation., Kinema highlights how tech workers don’t typically see unions as an option, even when they are faced with the poor working conditions, sexual harassment and exploitation — amongst other things. This is why game and tech workers must unionize. There is a huge potential for societal change and people must work together in their common struggle for better conditions. “We want to build that kind of society-shaking worker power in tech. To do so we must understand that our working conditions are intimately bound up with the societal impact of our technology on the world. Many of us get into union organizing through our personal politics and values, but that alone cannot build large majorities of workers ready to take on class struggle in their workplace.”

The Video Game Industry Is Closer to Unionizing Than Ever Before

“I do fear for my job … even if I’m fired, I have been part of a movement that is going to change the games industry. I might not benefit, but future people like me will,” said Blizzard contractor Aubrey Ryan. The games industry has had a groundbreaking year. No company in the history of gaming has had to suffer headlines of lawsuit after lawsuit, until Activision Blizzard. This year Activision Blizzard has been in the spotlight because of an expose by the wall street journal, a petition asking for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick, as well as many lawsuits and investigations. Workers at Vodeo have also unionized with CWA, marking a first for the industry in North America. The United Vodeo Workers (CWA) have been voluntarily recognized by company management and are looking to start contract negotiations. “The unionization at Vodeo Games shows the wide range of workers who are considering the benefit of having a collective voice in negotiations about employment conditions, such as wages, health insurance, paid leave and workplace safety,” said Risa L. Lieberwitz, labor and employment law professor at Cornell University. Read more on the Washington Post.

Why 2021 Was the Biggest Year for the Labor Movement in Games

In the gaming industry, labor conditions have been under scrutiny for decades, as early as 2000. Employees have to work long hours, have to deal with crunch, can be fired at anytime and have had to face sexual harassment. From Vodeo Workers United (CWA) to the Activision Blizzard Walkout, video game workers are organizing across the country. United Paizo Workers (CWA) formed their union earlier this year and Vodeo workers formed the first video game union in North America. Although these unions are small, workers at bigger companies have staged walkouts and are speaking up. According to a 2020 poll of 4,000 games workers by the Game Developers Conference, 54% of game developers would be in favor of unionizing. “In my experience, it actually isn't suffering that drives people to take the risk and organize,” says Tom Smith, senior director of organizing for the Communications Workers of America, the country's largest communications and media union. “It’s hope. I think this is a moment in history in which both things are out there.” Read more on Wired.

CoD Warzone Accidentally Added a Skin That Can Turn Players Almost Totally Invisible

Glitches are ruining Call of Duty because Raven management, a subdivision of Activision Blizzard, refuses to listen to the demands of striking workers and reinstate the employees who were terminated before the Holiday season. Raven workers have been on strike for almost three weeks to protest layoffs at the company. The workers are an essential part of the company and remove glitches amongst other things. Raven QA workers have also submitted a letter demanding full time employment for all QA workers and a discussion of layoffs. The Activision Blizzard King workers alliance has said that leadership has offered no response. Read more on IGN.

This Week in History

January 5 1869 – The nation’s first Labor convention of Black workers was held in Washington, D.C., with 214 delegates forming the Colored National Labor Union.

January 8 1864 – Birthdate of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, first AFL woman organizer. In 1880 she organized the Woman’s Bookbinder Union and in 1903 was a founder of the National Women’s Trade Union League.

Song of the Week

I’m Looking Out for Me from Aladdin

by Randy Petersen & Kevin Quinn from Aladdin

They promise caviar

And leave me eatin' dust!

That's some reward for loyalty

From here on in

I'm lookin' out for me!

Oh, I don't need nobody else

I'll never fail

I'll cover my own tail

I can take care of myself!

You know, it just don't pay

To give a hoot

I'm givin' all my heart

What do I get?

Da boot!