CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 4

CODE-CWA Newsletter: March 4

“This is a historic win, and we are proud to now represent the largest union of tech workers with bargaining rights in the country. We stand in solidarity with all workers organizing to build better workplaces in the tech and media industries. We’re more ready than ever to take the next steps in achieving our goal of building a fair and equitable workplace. We look forward to beginning the bargaining process with [NY Times] management and achieving the fair contract we deserve.” - New York Times Tech Guild (CWA)

The New York Time’s Tech Guild’s (CWA) final ballots came in and the union won by an over 80% yes vote landslide!! This makes the Times Tech Guild (CWA) the largest union of tech workers with bargaining rights in the country!
But that’s not all. Google Fiber vendor workers in Kansas City start voting in their own union election TODAY. 100% of them have already signed union cards. If all goes well, they'll be the first certified unit of AWU-CWA members with collective bargaining rights. AWU-CWA is also having a worker speak on a White House panel on Monday!

Unionization efforts are picking up speed with a number of milestones being broken every few months. The NY Times CWA tech union is another historic win for labor unions and workers rights. Similarly, the games industry has been historically averse to unionization, but that is changing. Paizo, an RPG game company, recently unionized with CWA — a first in the tabletop games industry. Then Vodeo games unionized with CWA and received voluntary recognition making it the first video game union in the industry in North America. Now QA testers at Raven Studios, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, are fighting for union recognition with CWA. If successful they will become the first union from a AAA games studio in the industry and these efforts are not going unnoticed. After a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing between Raven studios and their employees, Senator Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demanding they “negotiate in good faith with the workers and suspend any efforts to undermine your employees’ legal right to form a union and collectively bargain.”  

The NY Times Tech Guild had partnered with CWA in their unionization effort. They were successful. We at CWA have a proven track record. If you are unsure about organizing, remember that unions create better working conditions, and CWA is ready to help and organize with you. The changes unions bring have a long-lasting impact. Reach out!


On March 6th, 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 5th at 3 PM PST. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!

Worker News

NYT Tech Workers Celebrate Blowout Win in Historic CWA Union Win

Tech workers at the New York Times made history yesterday when they voted to unionize with Communications Workers of America. The union won 404 of 508 ballots, roughly 80% of those cast, making them the largest tech union with bargaining power in the country. “In the face of a relentless union busting campaign by The New York Times' management, the members of the Times Tech Guild (CWA) refused to back down. The message to the industry is clear: the power to choose union representation is in the hands of the workers, not CEOs,” said Tom Smith, Organizing Director at the Communications Workers of America. “They are part of a wave of tech and game workers at NPR, Alphabet and dozens of other companies who have organized with CODE-CWA to improve their workplaces.” Read more about this historic win here.

U.S. Senator warns Activision CEO about undermining CWA unionization efforts as Raven NLRB hearing wraps

Last week, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin called on Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella not to undermine ongoing union efforts. QA testers at Raven studios were recently at a hearing by the NLRB to determine if the QA testers should be counted as their own unit. The QA testers formed the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) earlier this year after a weeks-long protest, but were not voluntarily recognized by the company. The company responded by breaking up the QA testers and moving them to various departments in an effort to dilute their votes. The QA testers then filed a petition with the NLRB which led to the hearing. After the hearing, Senator Baldwin Baldwin sent a letter to CEO Bobby Kotick in which she wrote that she “will be following the proceedings at the National Labor Relations Board and Raven Software closely. I urge you and the management at Raven Software to remain neutral in the coming NLRB election in order to allow your employees to decide their representatives for themselves.” The NLRB is expected to give a ruling in the next several months. Read more on the Washington Post

Two Face Anti-Unionism

Starbucks, The New York Times, and REI proclaim they are not anti-union, while actively engaging in union busting and anti-union activities. These companies seem happy that other companies have unionized but also do not want their employees to do the same. Starbucks frequently says it is pro-partner and not anti-union, however their new website is a carefully worded anti-union one. REI CEO Eric Artz similarly said he does not oppose unions, but unionization at REI would muck up concerns at the speed the world is moving. These companies are trying to take their customers for fools with their hypocrisy. “If a company and its management are truly not anti-union, then they should butt out, not interfere, and let employees decide for themselves whether they want a union. A company that’s not anti-union doesn’t send anti-union emails, doesn’t disseminate anti-union literature, and doesn’t hold mandatory anti-union meetings.” Read more on Prospect

All eyes are on Activision Blizzard workers fighting to unionize amid proposed Microsoft acquisition

The video game industry has historically not unionized, but things are changing. With CWA, Vodeo Games workers became the first in the industry to unionize. Now QA testers at Raven studios want to do the same. Unfortunately they did not receive voluntary recognition, and were forced to petition with the NLRB. “There's been a lot of things happening with the company on a corporate level that just doesn't sit right with a lot of us," said Erin Hall, a QA tester at Raven. After trying to unionize, the QA testers were split up and their department disbanded. With Raven studios and Activision Blizzard conducting union busting activities, it is unclear how Microsoft will respond. Microsoft has announced it wants to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. However it is unclear whether the QA testers will have to get voluntary recognition from the new management or if Microsoft will engage in the same anti-union propaganda as their predecessors. For now, the NLRB hearing has concluded pending a decision from the board. Read more on NPR

Google employees protest the company's Durham wage policy.

“If they succeed in their goal of hiring a diverse workforce in this area (and we hope they do!), the data will tell the story that Google is paying minorities less.” said the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA) in a petition. Alphabet is making record profits— but Google employees in the company’s Durham office are facing pay cuts and reduced stock grants. Google claims it pays its employees based on location but many of the employees had already moved to the area before learning of the pay cuts. Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA), has filed an internal petition against the decision to pay Durham employees lower rates, saying it was “unsatisfied” with the decision and its potential effects on employees there. Read more on The News & Observer

“DEMOCRACY WILL WIN.” Activision workers say they’re optimistic after labor board hearing.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held a hearing to determine if the quality assurance testers at Raven studios should be classified as their own unit. After weeks of protest QA testers at Raven studios started the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) union. Activision Blizzard responded by not recognizing the union, employing union busting tactics, and disbanding the QA department. The company is trying to separate all the QA testers and force the entire company to vote in an effort to undermine unionization. The hearing is over, but the NLRB still has to issue their verdict. According to Jessica Gonzalez — A QA tester and founder of GWA (CWA) — “I’m optimistic the NLRB will do the right thing. Democracy will win.” Read more on Inverse

This Week in History

MARCH 4 1913 President William Howard Taft signs legislation creating the Department of Labor. Former United Mine Workers Secretary-Treasurer William B. Wilson is named to lead the new department.

MARCH 4 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt names a woman, Frances Perkins, to be Secretary of Labor. Perkins became the first female cabinet member in U.S. history.

Song of the Week

Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney & George Strait

'Round the clock pain

Work seven to three

Three to eleven

Eleven to seven

Talking about a bunch of shift work

A big ol' pile of shift work

Work seven to three

Three to eleven

Eleven to seven

Well I work, shift work,

Ten years man, I hated that work