CODE-CWA Newsletter: October 8

CODE-CWA Newsletter: October 8

“Activision Blizzard is worth $72 billion —an $18 million settlement is mere pennies considering the resources available to this cash-rich corporation. Even worse, Activision Blizzard’s management does not acknowledge that their actions harmed their workers, viewing the settlement as a very small price to pay to rid themselves of a ‘distraction.’ ”— Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America (CWA)

We’ve been watching the discrimination case at Activision Blizzard with laser focus, and after three years of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations, the gaming corporation got to settle for a historically low $18 million dollars for a civil-rights complaint against the company. That’s chump change for a company valued at $72 BILLION. This paltry settlement comes as Activision Blizzard still has to face a complaint filed by CWA-CODA with the National Labor Relations Board, an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and an ongoing lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

With that disappointing settlement, tech companies continue to exploit workers, seemingly without fear of reprisal. Case in point: Management at tech company Mapbox have been illegally retaliating against pro-union employees after the union lost a vote in August. But tech workers like us continue to pushback in any way they can. Recently, a gay Black Google security employee filed a lawsuit against the company adding to the long list of racially motivated discrimination at Google. Temp workers at Google are also speaking up about the severe pay inequality and lack of benefits.

As tech companies continue to exploit workers, this newsletter keeps you up to date with our organizing efforts and everything union-related in the tech industry, from the Activision Blizzard lawsuit to the ongoing union struggles at Mapbox.

Many companies will try to engage in union busting activities and anti-union campaigns. But working together will make the biggest impact. If you are unsure or unwilling to organize, we at CWA have one question for you. Are you looking for better working conditions? Reach out. We are ready to help and organize with you.


Check our calendar for future events.

Worker News

Union Busting and Retaliation at Mapbox

Mapbox is retaliating against its union members and organizers in an attempt to dismantle the Mapbox Workers Union (MWU). Last month, Mapbox executives demanded that the MWU Twitter account and webpage be taken down following a union vote in August. Many organizers have also been spontaneously fired and others are being intimidated. Mapbox has claimed that these firings are part of regular scheduled performance reviews, but has failed to provide any evidence. The MWU plans to respond to this illegal activity with legal action. Read more on Twitter.

Activision To Pay $18 Million Settlement Over Workplace Misconduct

After a federal employment agency filed a civil rights complaint, Activision Blizzard decided to pay $18 million in a settlement. The complaint comes after a 3 year investigation into company for cases of discrimination and sexual harassment. Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, Sara Steffens said, “yesterday’s inefficient EEOC settlement made it clear that the thousands of Activision Blizzard workers who have suffered from years of toxic workplace misconduct on behalf of Activision Blizzard will not receive true justice.” The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing also filed a lawsuit against the company in July, and CWA filed a complaint against the NLRB for violating national labour law. Both are unaffected by the settlement. Read more on the New York Times.

Google Exposed For Discrimination Again; And Google Temps Fight Back

Google is being sued over the misconduct of two of its employees. David Brown, a security guard who works at Google, is suing the company for emotional and physical harassment. According to the lawsuit, Brown’s supervisor Henry Linares, engaged in discrimination and harassment based on Brown’s race and sexual orientation. Also according to the lawsuit, Linares kicked him in the groin and also threw him out of a window head first. Google’s senior manager Rus Rossini was also complicit and took no corrective action to stop the inappropriate behavior. Google has also been getting backlash for it’s two-tier labor system. Temporary workers at Google are not given benefits and are not even allowed to say they are Google employees, even though they often do the same work as full time workers. According to Kevin Kiprovski, a contracted worker for Google, “You have no protections. People treat you like garbage every day, no one cares about you, and then you’re just told that you’re worthless constantly.” Temp workers at Google have also been severely underpaid for many years illegally. This sparked outrage and caused some to try and unionize, but Google is not making it easy. As Ben Gwin, a temporary worker for Google said, “That was one of the union-busting talking points. They claimed, ‘if you negotiate for better pay, someone else is going to come in and take this contract and pay less fees.’” Read more on Reuters and the Guardian.

Workers at Crime-Watch App Citizen Are Unionizing

Citizen workers are unionizing with the Communications Workers of America under the Citizen Central Operations Union. Citizen is a social media platform that “invents and builds technology to make the world safer. Every day, Citizen technology helps people evacuate building fires, galvanizes hyper local communities to find kidnapped and missing children, and empowers people with life-saving situational awareness in the face of natural disasters,” according to a citizen spokesperson. However, rising racism within its user base, an increase in overseas labour, and lack of a formal path to grow has led to a unionization effort within the company. The Palisades bounty incident also had a significant impact for igniting the union drive. In the incident, Citizen CEO Andrew Frame offered to fund a $30,000 bounty against a man who was falsely accused of igniting the Palisades Wildfire, which made many employees uncomfortable. Management does not support the union, but workers have petitioned for a union election with the National Labour Relations Board. Read more on Vice.

This Week in History

October 5 1995 – Thirty-two thousand machinists begin what is to be a successful 69-day strike against the Boeing Co. The eventual settlement brought improvements that averaged an estimated $19,200 in wages and benefits over four years and safeguards against job cutbacks.

Song of the Week

Heigh-Ho from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till night,

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight,

We dig up diamonds by the score,

A thousand rubies, sometimes more,

But we don't know what we dig 'em for,

We dig dig dig a-dig dig