From the Riot Games walkout to worldwide walkouts at Google, the tech and gaming industry has seen its share of contention between employers and employees. A large reason for this has been the lack of employees attempting to unionize.
However, according to the Los Angeles Times, that may change in the near future, as Communications Workers of America (CWA), a massive labor union, alongside Game Workers Unite, an organization that was developed to push along unionization in the gaming industry, have formulated a new project geared towards helping gaming and tech employees.
Under the movement, called the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE), employees in the gaming and tech industries will now have better support if they choose to unionize. Since the CWA mainly follows the industrial union model, which organizes companies as a whole instead of breaking up employees by the jobs they do into individual unions, there’s a chance CODE may run the same way.
Tom Smith, lead organizer of the CWA, told the Los Angeles Times that the “CWA could accommodate craft-based organizing if that’s what video game or tech workers want.” Ultimately, unionized employees will help drive the ship: “the workers will…decide how to organize.” CODE may also pull organizing tactics from other union leaders, such as the more “traditional labor organizing” seen from Wes McEnany, who leads Fight for 15 on the East Coast.
Do We Really Need Another Union?
CODE organizers say that the new movement aims to better align working conditions and corporate ethics. This will likely feel like a breath of fresh air for tech and gaming employees, especially since both face pressure and arguable unfair working conditions, such as:
- Lack of protection and support for disabled employees
- Forced arbitration instead of the ability to sue in the case of claiming sexual harassment and discrimination
- Firings for alleged retaliation for organizing (in a recent case with Google)
- Forced working hours; some gaming employees are made to work 100-hour weeks to compete a game per a delivery deadline
As a result, the short answer to the union question is yes, we do need another one. Keeping employees happy in both industries will not only improve the workplace as a whole, but it will also improve the employer-employee relationship. It might also increase productivity, and shift the culture to a more positive one in the tech and gaming industries as the demand for jobs continues to rise.