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Activision’s Union Is Now The Biggest One In Video Games

The number of unionized workers for Microsoft's video game subsidiaries keeps growing, and the latest group to join the pool is the largest one yet. Approximately 600 quality assurance workers at Activision have joined the Communications Workers of America(CWA), making them the biggest certified union in the US video game industry. They're also the first Activision workers to organize under the agreement between Microsoft and the CWA. If you'll recall, Microsoft agreed to respect the right of Activision Blizzard workers to unionize as part of its efforts to secure regulatory approval for its $68.7 billion takeover of the video game developer.

Workers Picket Game Awards Amid Industry Layoffs

On the West Coast, game workers formed a working group called Game Workers of Southern California, whose chief aim is to coordinate direct actions, share information with new and existing game workers, and shed light on the workplace abuses in the game industry. Just last week, organizers formed a picket outside of the Video Game Awards, where they passed out leaflets about the rounds of layoffs in the industry and sought to educate attendees on the need for unions at their favorite studios. For this week’s episode, I sat down with a number of organizers from Game Workers of SoCal to discuss working conditions in the game industry, the need for organizing in tech, and the importance of white-collar unions in the wider US labor movement.

Workers At TCGPlayer Celebrate Groundbreaking Win

A majority of workers at eBay-owned TCGPlayer won their union election on Friday, March 10 and will be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1123. TCGPlayer is one of the largest online marketplaces for verification services, card games, comics, and collectible trading cards. It was acquired by eBay in November 2022. The workers, known as TCGUnion-CWA, are the first group of eBay workers to win union representation in the U.S. In 2020, workers at TCGPlayer made attempts to form a union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Game Workers Are About To Take On The Biggest Boss Fight Of All

Madison, Wisconsin - The American Dream never seemed real to Justin Smith, who grew up in Ohio’s Akron-Canton area. Factories had vanished, taking well-paying blue-collar jobs with them. Watching his single-parent mom do her best to survive on low-wage gigs, he got used to dreaming small. Then came the pandemic, which wiped out Smith’s hotel concierge job in Madison, tossing him into a year of unemployment and depression. In 2021, at the age of 34, he found a warehouse job at a retail gaming store for $11 an hour — much less than he’d earned before. It was a financial heartbreak millions of workers know well.

Activision Nickel-And-Dimes Union; Call Of Duty Has $800 Million Weekend

Quality assurance staff at Call of Duty studio Raven Software unionized back in May, but over five months later the developers say progress is almost nonexistent on the first union contract at a major gaming company. Activision is apparently still denying unionized staff the raises given to all other QA testers earlier in the year, and is even requiring the union pay out of pocket for workers to be able to bargain during the day. All this, while boasting about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s record-shattering $800 million opening weekend. This is according to a new blog post published Thursday by Game Workers Alliance. In it, the Raven QA union represented by the Communication Workers of America describes its fourth contract bargaining session that went nowhere.

Not Playing Around: Video Game Testers Aim To Unionize

Albany, New York - Workers at Blizzard Albany want to democratize their workplace, seeking improved work-life balance, fair compensation, and improved benefits, as well as open communication between employees and Activision Blizzard King. To get there, quality assurance (QA) testers at Blizzard’s studio in Albany announced in late July they want to form a union at the company with the help of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). The workers have chosen to organize under the name Game Workers Alliance Albany. If successful, QA testers in Albany would continue the momentum initiated by testers at Wisconsin-based Raven Software, another subsidiary of Activision Blizzard King (ABK). The team at Raven won their union election decisively back in late May, signifying the first successful union drive at one of the largest video game companies in history.

GMG Union Staff At G/O Media Publications Go On Strike

Unionized workers at publications including Kotaku, Gizmodo, Jezebel, Lifehacker, The Root, and Jalopnik are striking to secure fairer contacts. A number of staff at those G/O Media-owned outlets have unionized under the Gizmodo Media Group Union (GMG Union) banner, and are attempting to collectively bargain for contracts that guarantee healthcare, offer adequate family leave, codify diversity initiatives, provide work-from-home flexibility, prevent G/O from lowballing salaries, and protect staff from forced relocations to the NYC office. Since January 31, 2022, GMG Union members have met five times with G/O Media's outside council, but say the council has failed to proactively engage with their good-faith proposals.

Activision Blizzard Accused Of ‘Union-Busting’ As Hearing Continues

Activision Blizzard and Raven Software QA workers are looking to define employees eligible for Game Workers Alliance, the union group formed in January with the assistance of Communication Workers of America (CWA). The National Labor Review Board hearing began Wednesday and continued into Thursday. Union representatives have raised concerns about whether Activision Blizzard’s various responses to employees’ unionization efforts constitute union-busting. The hearing was forced in late January after Activision Blizzard denied Game Workers Alliance’s request for voluntary recognition of the union. The purpose of the hearing is to define which employees can be included in the unit, as well as determine who can vote for or against the union.

Workers At Activision Blizzard Lead Week-Long Work Stoppage

On Friday, workers at video gaming company Activision Blizzard entered their fifth day of a work stoppage in response to layoffs at one of the company’s subsidiaries. The stoppage comes on the heels of revelations of sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard and amid fierce resistance to staff unionization efforts. The work stoppage began on Monday when quality assurance (QA) workers at Raven Software, one of the main developers behind the hit Call of Duty video game series, began being laid off. Employees are demanding that these contractors be reinstated and given full-time contracts. The exact number of workers participating in the work stoppage is unclear, but hundreds of both remote and in-person employees across studios and states participated, with many walkouts occurring virtually.

Seven Games For The Resistance

By Darya Marchenkova for TESA Collective and Felicia Perez for Center for Story-based Strategy - Have you ever talked politics with someone you disagree with and tried to change their mind? If so, then you probably know that the facts rarely speak for themselves. It’s not enough to tell people facts and figures about the truth if we want to convey deeper values. To do that, we need stories, images, and metaphors. We need imagination. Games are sensational storytellers. They can take us to magical places and alter our perspectives. And what if that fun mental break we get from games wasn’t just about escaping real life but about imagining a better world? The TESA Collective has just launched Rise Up: The Game of People and Power, a cooperative board game where players build a fiercely powerful social movement step by step, while warding off attacks by aggressive opponents. It’s a fun and low-stakes way to practice political strategy, created for both new and experienced activists. The Center for Story-based Strategy made Resistance Bingo, a print-and-play game that responds to the “oh shit” feeling many people might be feeling by giving players practical actions they can take to resist fascism in real life, then tracking their progress on a bingo board.

Rise Up: The Game Of People & Power

By Staff of TESA Collective - Lead a march of thousands of people. Write a protest song that goes viral. Fight for what you believe in. Rise Up is a cooperative board game about building people power and taking on oppressive systems to create change. It’s ethically manufactured and made by the creators of Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives. In each game of Rise Up, players take creative actions to fight for victory. Everyone wins or loses together. The game weaves a story about your movement, which can either be based in reality (like stopping an oil pipeline) or fictional (like fighting for dragon rights). But “the System” is hard at work too, maneuvering to crush your movement through tactics like setting up surveillance, making arrests, or causing infighting. A great choice for game nights with friends and family, Rise Up is an alternative to many mainstream board games that feature themes of conquest, exploitation, and warfare. It’s a strategy game that can only be won through player collaboration. And we’ve done something innovative: just flip the board over, and you’ll be able to play Rise Up Simplified, a version that’s quicker to learn and that has simpler rules. Rise Up Simplified is appropriate for younger kids and people who have less experience with games.
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