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April 23, 2021
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Labor union CWA takes steps to organize game workers

Labor union CWA takes steps to organize game workers

January 7, 2020 | By Bryant Francis

The push for unionization in the video game industry has a new major player. In a story by the LA Times, labor union Communication Workers of America announced it's launching a new initiative to unionize game and tech workers by hiring two organizers dedicated to providing legal and logistical support for developers seeking to organize their workplaces. 

The two new staffers, Emma Kinema and Wes McEnany, are launching CODE: The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees. Kinema previously co-founded Game Workers Unite and organized the group's Southern California chapters.

As the LA Times notes, the choice to align Game Workers Unite with Communication Workers of America does shift the push for unionization into a path more familiar to traditional industrial organizing, rather than the craft-based model that SAG-AFTRA has represented for video game voice actors.

CWA lead organizer Tom Smith told the LA Times the union is still open to a craft-based organizational model if that's what workers want, but Kinema presented an explanation for the company organization model. 

“We believe workers are strongest when they’re together in one shop in one union, so the disciplines can’t be pitted against each other—none of that’s good for the workers,” Kinema told the Times. “I think in games and tech the wall-to-wall industrial model is the best fit.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently expressed support for a union for video game developers. Kinema herself previously joined a panel of organizers explaining how developers can organize their workplace at GDC 2019. 

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