The Communications Workers of America, a labour union that represents hundreds of thousands of workers across numerous fields, has announced a new campaign to support unionization efforts within the gaming and technology industries.
That effort, the Campaign to Organise Digital Employees (CODE), hopes to organise workers to address ongoing issues within the industries, including discrimination, gruelling hours, low pay, and harassment and assault. But workers in these fields must additionally contend with unique problems, such as controversial government contracts as well as problematic or altogether unethical applications for products they help produce.
“This campaign has been the culmination of two years of initiatives between the Communications Workers of America and the different grassroots game and tech workers movements,” lead organiser Emma Kinema told Gizmodo by phone. “If they’ve been thinking about it, if they’ve been considering it, if they’ve been looking for an option, we are that option. And we want to be there for people because we know there’s a lot of energy and a lot of involvement around worker activism and organising.”
Kinema said the initiative is intended to address two primary goals. One of those is improving wage and worker condition conditions, specifically within the gaming industry but also in parts of the tech sector, and includes everything from poor wages or salaries that are disproportionate to the costs of living, pay discrimination, and layoffs, among other issues.
The other specifically addresses company values and how those reflect worker values, Kinema said, specifically with respect to making sure worker voices are heard in the work that they do, in the directions taken by their companies, and in the effect of their products in the world.
“I think a lot of us in games and the tech industry, we come to work because we have a certain set of values that we want to build into the world,” Kinema said. “I think understanding that the values that bring us to work and inspire the work we do are working conditions. We come to specific companies to enact those values.”
The campaign comes at a particularly pivotal time for the technology industry in particular. In recent years, misconduct, poor worker conditions, the greedy financial interests of company executives, or a combination of these and other workplace issues has resulted in walkouts, demonstrations, public letters, and other actions by workers at some of the world’s most powerful tech companies.
Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Microsoft, and smaller tech companies like Gimlet have taken public action in an effort to create change within their companies and industries at large. CODE-CWA will provide the organising resources for workers in these industries to see those demands through.
“Companies in the technology and game industries have gotten away with avoiding accountability for far too long,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in a statement. “Workers in these industries are exposing the reality behind the rhetoric. This initiative will help tech and game workers reach the next level in their efforts to exercise their right to join together and demand change.”