Game Industry Unions

Two Major Workers’ Rights Organizations Team Up to Help Games Industry Employees Unionize

The topic of unionization has been a rather popular one in game development and the games industry as of late. In an effort to help workers form unions, two major organizations are working together to start a new campaign to fight for workers’ rights in the games industry. The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, also known as CODE for short (and not to be confused with the other CODE: the Call of Duty Endowment), is a campaign set up by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) in an effort to help.

The idea was started when members of CWA were talking with members of Game Workers Unite (GWU) about unionization in the games industry. After this, the new campaign was started. CWA has not disclosed how much funding the campaign has, but they did assign a pair of employees to it, one of whom is Emma Kinema, the co-founder of GWU. Kinema had the following to say about CODE:

In my experience self-organizing in the game industry, people are very bottlenecked by the lack of resources and lack of legal know-how and a lack of funding – it’s very tough. The decades of experience and resources that come from partnering with an organization like CWA can take it to the next level.

In addition to CODE, the Toronto branch of GWU has signed a formal partnership agreement with CWA, with the goal being to try and continue to get unions in at game companies.

Quite a few developers have had opinions about unions in the past. After accusations arose about Rockstar’s awful working conditions, including managers throwing objects and firing people for attempting to improve their games, calls to unionize grew stronger. In response, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said that, while the company would follow the law and allow unions if employees asked, he wasn’t sure that developers would actually want a union and that things appeared to be fair to him. Unions continue to be a hot-button issue within the games industry as friction between studios’ leadership and the general workforce is ongoing.

[Source: LA Times]