CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 18

CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 18

“Workers have long been shut out of conversations about mergers that would directly impact their livelihoods and they have been disregarded by regulators in the review process,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “Shareholders and executives see big gains, while workers pay the price of consolidation…In particular, when workers at these companies do not have union representation, they are not able to have a seat at the table and do not have a meaningful opportunity to fight back to protect their jobs and their communities.”

In January Microsoft announced its plan to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The buzz around Activision Blizzard and its merger with Microsoft has brought a lot of rightfully negative attention and raised a series of questions on monopolies and mega- consolidations. CWA in particular has urged the FTC,DOJ, and state attorney generals to examine the merger, and ensure the safety and interest of workers and the community are upheld. The Writers Guild of America West has also released a report slamming several megamergers because of the difficulty it brings workers. And Senator Elizabeth Warren released a bill this week that would force regulators to protect the interests of the community as well as workers during a merger.

CODE-CWA Campaign Lead Emma Kinema also opened up about her experiences organizing in the tech and games industry. She talks about the importance of talking person to person and establishing common ground with the co-workers around you. Even if you don’t have a perfect relationship with a coworker, you should talk to them, because no matter who your co-workers are, they work with you and are likely facing the same issues.

Workers often do not know the steps required to successfully unionize, but having the right training can make organizing a breeze. The most important aspect is knowing how to speak to coworkers, which is essential to increasing the chance of success. That’s exactly why we offer weekly organizer trainings to help people successfully navigate the road to unionization. As Kinema points out “Get in touch with me and my fellow organizers at CWA. We work with many, many game developers across the US and Canada, we have relationships with folks in many different studios.” If you’re ready to take that leap, go to our website; there’s a contact form.” CWA is ready to help and organize with you. Reach out!


On March 20th, join us for an organizer training at 12 PM 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 March 19th at 1O AM PST. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!

Worker News

CWA Endorses Sen. Warren’s Prohibiting Anticompetitive Mergers Act Ahead of Critical FTC Review of Microsoft-Activision Deal

Activision Blizzard employees are facing rampant surveillance, intimidation and union-busting tactics in response to their efforts to change a culture of worker abuse and discrimination. Now Microsoft wants to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. After the merger, many employees could lose their jobs, or face pay cuts which is why groups like CWA are raising these concerns with the FTC so that they may scrutinize the deal. Senator Elizabeth Warren has responded with a bill — specifically Prohibiting Anticompetitive Mergers Act — that would ensure that workers are also securing a better future. It would force regulators to consider the impact on workers as well as the community from a merger, not only the benefit for shareholders. Read more here.

Audio: Google Contractor Tells Employees They Could Lose Work By Unionizing

Google Fiber workers in Kansas city have been trying to unionize under the Alphabet Workers Union (CWA). If successful, they will be the first in the country to successfully have bargaining rights with AWU-CWA, which has a great significance because it could inspire other Google workers to unionize as well. BDS connected solutions — the workers’ employer and Google Fiber contractor — has not voluntarily recognized the union and has been engaging in union busting behavior. The company held a series of small gatherings called captive audience meetings, where a union avoidance consultant repeatedly told the workers they could lose their contract if the vote to unionize was successful. Eris Derickson, a Google fiber employee said, “I speak for all of us when I say one of the biggest concerns is pay, and not just that we’re being paid below market rate, or that they’ve slashed our bonus. When I started, there was an expectation that we’d be eligible for a raise every year, but that hasn’t happened during COVID.” The workers have until March 24th to vote and are hopeful of a victory. Read more on Vice.

Organizing Isn’t Reading Das Kapital

What most people are not aware of is that the crux of successful organizing is talking to your co-workers. “People only hear about strikes and walkouts and petitions, but they don't understand that 99% of organizing is actually just talking to your coworkers. People make pretty serious mistakes by trying to get to the big things too fast and they kind of ignore the more difficult day-to-day, more small-scale work that makes up good, powerful organizing,” said Emma Kinema, lead organizer of CODE-CWA. When organizing, it may feel like certain industries cannot be unionized. Many people today think the tech industry cannot be organized because employees are too well paid and management has found new techniques to curtail unionizing. However, decades ago people also thought the same of the steel industry. Some said workers were too well paid, and others said the management techniques were different and it was a new industry, but all of those said the industry could not be unionized. In the end, the steel industry was unionized. According to Kinema, “there’s this pattern in a lot of new industries where in the first couple decades it's a bit Wild West; it's a bit chaotic sometimes, but as people have gone through enough cycles of seeing people leave and burnout or be harmed, we learn that, turns out the industry we're in is not an exception.” Read more here.

Mega Deals and Mergers Threaten Workers Rights

Unionization efforts in the video game industry are picking up speed, but mergers and mega deals may make things challenging. Mergers often lead to mass layoffs, and during a megamerger, companies often solidify their position in the market which gives them greater control over employee wages. Some labor advocates have also said that a larger workplace can make it more difficult to organize, but others feel there is enough energy to overcome these obstacles. “If you look at labor history both in a global way and especially in the United States context, there are tipping-point moments. I don’t know if we’re on the cusp of one of those moments, but when I see the activism and the energy and the commitment of increasingly large numbers of workers, they certainly act like they might be,” said CWA’s national director of organizing, Tom Smith. Read more on the Hollywood Reporter.

This Week in History

MARCH 17 1890 The leadership of the American Federation of Labor selects the Carpenters union to lead the eight-hour workday movement. Carpenters throughout the country strike in April; by May 1, some 46,000 carpenters in 137 cities and towns have achieved shorter hours.

Song of the Week

Factory by Bruce Springsteen

Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain

I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain

Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life

The working, the working, just the working life

End of the day, factory whistle cries

Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes

And you just better believe, boy

Somebody's gonna get hurt tonight

It's the working, the working, just the working life

'Cause it's the working, the working, just the working life