Microsoft and CWA forge labor neutrality agreement covering all ZeniMax workers

Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have forged a labor neutrality agreement for all ZeniMax workers. The CWA says the deal is similar to the one from 2022 covering Activision Blizzard’s workforce, which went into effect in April of this year.

“Thousands of our ZeniMax co-workers now have a free and fair path to organize together for better working conditions,” Page Branson, a Senior Quality Assurance (QA) Tester, wrote in a CWA press release.

In 2022, the Xbox maker signed a formal agreement with CWA to respect Activision Blizzard employees’ right to organize. Set to take effect 60 days after Microsoft’s acquisition closed, it didn’t become official until earlier this year. It also extends Microsoft’s early 2023 recognition of ZeniMax QA workers’ right to unionize, and it now includes every eligible employee at ZeniMax.

The CWA says the new agreement means Microsoft will take a neutral approach when employees express interest in joining the union. The workers can communicate with their peers and union reps about membership “in a way that encourages information sharing and avoids business disruptions.”

According to the CWA, workers will have access to a decision-making process that respects their privacy if they wish. In addition, it includes a dispute resolution and arbitration process in the case of any disagreements between the union and Microsoft.

“When we organized our union under a similar legal agreement the process was clear and management did not try to influence anyone’s decision and the company did not try to interfere with the voting process,” Branson wrote. “There is strength in numbers, and as our numbers grow at ZeniMax, at Microsoft, and in the video game industry, we will gain the respect we deserve and raise the standards of working conditions for everyone across the video gaming industry. When we benefit, the consumer and the company will ultimately benefit with us and help keep this industry stable for current and future workers.”

Update, June 6 2024, 1:45PM ET: The subhed of this story has been updated to reflect that the 2022 deal was between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard workers, while Activision Blizzard the entity was not a party to the deal. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-and-cwa-forge-labor-neutrality-agreement-covering-all-zenimax-workers-212643324.html?src=rss

Microsoft and CWA forge labor neutrality agreement covering all ZeniMax workers

Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have forged a labor neutrality agreement for all ZeniMax workers. The CWA says the deal is similar to the one from 2022 covering Activision Blizzard’s workforce, which went into effect in April of this year.

“Thousands of our ZeniMax co-workers now have a free and fair path to organize together for better working conditions,” Page Branson, a Senior Quality Assurance (QA) Tester, wrote in a CWA press release.

In 2022, the Xbox maker signed a formal agreement with CWA to respect Activision Blizzard employees’ right to organize. Set to take effect 60 days after Microsoft’s acquisition closed, it didn’t become official until earlier this year. It also extends Microsoft’s early 2023 recognition of ZeniMax QA workers’ right to unionize, and it now includes every eligible employee at ZeniMax.

The CWA says the new agreement means Microsoft will take a neutral approach when employees express interest in joining the union. The workers can communicate with their peers and union reps about membership “in a way that encourages information sharing and avoids business disruptions.”

According to the CWA, workers will have access to a decision-making process that respects their privacy if they wish. In addition, it includes a dispute resolution and arbitration process in the case of any disagreements between the union and Microsoft.

“When we organized our union under a similar legal agreement the process was clear and management did not try to influence anyone’s decision and the company did not try to interfere with the voting process,” Branson wrote. “There is strength in numbers, and as our numbers grow at ZeniMax, at Microsoft, and in the video game industry, we will gain the respect we deserve and raise the standards of working conditions for everyone across the video gaming industry. When we benefit, the consumer and the company will ultimately benefit with us and help keep this industry stable for current and future workers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-and-cwa-forge-labor-neutrality-agreement-covering-all-zenimax-workers-212643324.html?src=rss

Samsung’s largest union calls its first-ever strike

Samsung's largest workers' organization, the National Samsung Electronics Union, has announced that it's planning to stage a walkout next week as part of its fight for fair compensation. Members are threatening to skip work for a day, on June 7, in hopes that the company would listen to their demands after their wage negotiations over the past months had come to a standstill. If it pushes through, BNN Bloomberg says it'll be the first strike ever by the company's employees since Samsung was founded. As Reuters reports, Samsung agreed to a 5.1 percent increase in wages this year, but the union is also negotiating to add one more day to workers' annual leaves and for more transparency when it comes to performance bonuses.

"What we want is not a 1-2 percent wage increase. What we want is to be paid fairly for the amount of work done," union leaders said in front of Samsung's offices in Seoul. "We want to be compensated for our labor fairly and transparently."

The National Samsung Electronics Union has 28,000 members, which represent over a fifth of the company's workforce. Union leaders aren't expecting the strike to have a significant impact on Samsung's production since most of its manufacturing processes are automated anyway, but they're still hoping that their walkout could compel the company to take them seriously. The union certainly has more power to negotiate now — apparently, its membership grew four-fold over the past couple of years after the company pledged to stop its union-busting schemes. 

Samsung used to be notorious for suppressing organized labor activities. In 2018, board chairman Lee Sang-hoon was indicted for sabotaging legitimate labor activities by threatening to lower wages of employees who join them, deliberately stalling negotiations between management and laborers and digging up dirt on key union personnel to persuade them to cease their activities. Lee stepped down as chairman of the board in 2020, the same year Samsung's Executive Chairman Jay Y. Lee promised to end the company's union-busting practices. 

The union said, however, that there's "no change in the management’s attitude" despite Lee's promise to eliminate non-union management. "We can no longer stand by the company's lack of will to negotiate," it added. If the company refuses to engage in meaningful talks, the union is planning to stage more walkouts in the future. A Samsung spokesperson told BNN Bloomberg, however, that "the company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the unions, and is making every sincere effort to an agreement."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsungs-largest-union-calls-its-first-ever-strike-123035998.html?src=rss

Samsung’s largest union calls its first-ever strike

Samsung's largest workers' organization, the National Samsung Electronics Union, has announced that it's planning to stage a walkout next week as part of its fight for fair compensation. Members are threatening to skip work for a day, on June 7, in hopes that the company would listen to their demands after their wage negotiations over the past months had come to a standstill. If it pushes through, BNN Bloomberg says it'll be the first strike ever by the company's employees since Samsung was founded. As Reuters reports, Samsung agreed to a 5.1 percent increase in wages this year, but the union is also negotiating to add one more day to workers' annual leaves and for more transparency when it comes to performance bonuses.

"What we want is not a 1-2 percent wage increase. What we want is to be paid fairly for the amount of work done," union leaders said in front of Samsung's offices in Seoul. "We want to be compensated for our labor fairly and transparently."

The National Samsung Electronics Union has 28,000 members, which represent over a fifth of the company's workforce. Union leaders aren't expecting the strike to have a significant impact on Samsung's production since most of its manufacturing processes are automated anyway, but they're still hoping that their walkout could compel the company to take them seriously. The union certainly has more power to negotiate now — apparently, its membership grew four-fold over the past couple of years after the company pledged to stop its union-busting schemes. 

Samsung used to be notorious for suppressing organized labor activities. In 2018, board chairman Lee Sang-hoon was indicted for sabotaging legitimate labor activities by threatening to lower wages of employees who join them, deliberately stalling negotiations between management and laborers and digging up dirt on key union personnel to persuade them to cease their activities. Lee stepped down as chairman of the board in 2020, the same year Samsung's Executive Chairman Jay Y. Lee promised to end the company's union-busting practices. 

The union said, however, that there's "no change in the management’s attitude" despite Lee's promise to eliminate non-union management. "We can no longer stand by the company's lack of will to negotiate," it added. If the company refuses to engage in meaningful talks, the union is planning to stage more walkouts in the future. A Samsung spokesperson told BNN Bloomberg, however, that "the company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the unions, and is making every sincere effort to an agreement."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsungs-largest-union-calls-its-first-ever-strike-123035998.html?src=rss

Amazon workers become the first to unionize at one of the company’s Canadian warehouses

A group of Amazon workers in Quebec have formed the first union at one of the company's Canadian warehouses. On Friday, the province's labor tribunal granted union accreditation to workers at the DXT4 warehouse in Laval, a Montreal suburb. It determined that a majority had opted to unionize after signing union cards.

A group of some 200 workers are organizing as the Laval Amazon Workers Union under the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), which represents around 330,000 people across a variety of industries in Canada. A general assembly to decide on a constitution, bylaws and representatives will take place in the coming days. A consultation with union members will then take place to agree on a list of demands.

The union says Amazon is legally required to come to the negotiation table to hash out a contract. However, it expects Amazon to appeal the labor tribunal’s decision after allegedly attempting to stop the unionization efforts.

“First and foremost, this is a great victory for the men and women from Latin America, Chad, the Maghreb and Asia who were not afraid to stand up for their rights,” CSN president Caroline Senneville said in a statement. “Over the past few months, Amazon has pulled out all the stops to block our unionization campaign, flooding the workplace with scaremongering messages. DXT4 workers have given us all a lesson in courage. Of course, we hope it spreads.”

Amazon claimed in a letter to the labor tribunal on May 6 that the accreditation would not "respect the interests of its employees." The company argued that some workers signed union cards after being misled and that some aspects of the Quebec labor code run contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We believe that all people should have the right to inform themselves and to vote according to their situation and convictions at the time," Amazon spokesperson Barbara M. Agrait told the CBC. "If a simple majority of people at an employer have joined a union at any point, then there's no vote and representation is automatic for all employees — including maybe dozens or hundreds of employees who didn't even know it was being considered."

Amazon has long been accused of attempting to upend unionization efforts at warehouses in the US and Europe. In 2022, workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, became the first in the company to form a union. But the Amazon Labor Union does not yet have a contract with Amazon, and reports suggest it's running low on funds ahead of a leadership election.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazon-workers-become-the-first-to-unionize-at-one-of-the-companys-canadian-warehouses-180447875.html?src=rss

Amazon CEO’s anti-union comments broke federal laws, labor judge rules

Continuing the long American tradition of wealthy corporate overlords making union-busting comments, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy went on a media blitz in 2022 to warn of the workplace-altering terrors of labor unions. (Surely, it’s an unfortunate happenstance that his urgent PSA coincided with an uptick in organizing efforts at Amazon.) Sadly for Mr. Jassy, the US still has a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and CNBC reports that the board ruled Wednesday that his anti-union comments broke federal labor laws.

Jassy popped up on CNBC in April 2022 to say that if employees voted for and joined a union, they would become less empowered and could expect things to become “much slower” and “more bureaucratic.” In an interview with Bloomberg, he added, “If you see something on the line that you think could be better for your team or you or your customers, you can’t just go to your manager and say, ‘Let’s change it.’”

He capped off his union-busting trifecta at The New York Times DealBook conference, where the CEO said that a workplace without unions isn’t “bureaucratic, it’s not slow.”

It’s the latest in Amazon’s long history of union-busting behavior.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy gestures toward the audience as part of an onstage talk. Black backdrop.
Amazon

NLRB Judge Brian Gee said Jassy violated labor laws by suggesting employees would be less empowered or “better off” without a union. However, Gee said the CEO’s other comments about worker-employer relationships changing were lawful. According to the judge, the difference is that the more aggressive quotes “went beyond merely commenting on the employee-employer relationship.”

Gee added that the comments “threatened employees that, if they selected a union, they would become less empowered and find it harder to get things done quickly.” The judge recommends that Amazon “cease and desist” from making similar comments in the future. The company is also required to post and share a note about the judge’s order with all of its US employees.

In December, Jassy’s Amazon shares were valued at $328 million, making him one of America’s wealthiest CEOs.

In a statement to CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said the judge’s ruling “reflects poorly on the state of free speech rights today.” Because, hey, what kind of free country do we even have if a retail magnate can’t tell low-income workers scary bedtime stories about the perils of voting to empower themselves in the workplace?

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazon-ceos-anti-union-comments-broke-federal-laws-labor-judge-rules-171809699.html?src=rss

Sega of America workers have ratified their union contract

Workers at Sega of America, a division of Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., have officially ratified their union contract, as reported by Bloomberg. This makes it one of the first major North American video-game companies to take this step, which could bode well for future organized labor pushes in the industry.

The contract was ratified after workers overwhelmingly voted to unionize last year. It covers around 150 people working in various departments throughout the company, including brand marketing, games as a service, localization, sales and quality assurance. The union is called the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS-CWA) and it organizes with the Communications Workers of America.

There are already some provisions in place for workers as part of the contract, including a minimum pay increase of 4 percent in 2024, 3 percent in 2025 and 2.5 percent in 2026. There are also layoff protections, codified benefits like health insurance, a severance inclusion and a commitment to credit all workers on games.

“We’re hopeful that in the midst of extensive layoffs, workers across the video game industry will see organizing as a pathway to improve working conditions for all of us,” wrote Jasmin Hernandez, a member of AEGIS-CWA, in a statement provided to Engadget.

Sega wasn’t exactly happy about the push toward labor rights and unionization. The company faced an unfair labor practice complaint after it announced plans to lay off 40 percent of the union's bargaining unit. The company did lay off some of these people, as promised, but the union was able to reach an agreement to keep many workers employed. 

Labor is having a moment in the games industry. ZeniMax Workers United joined with the CWA last year to offer union protection to 300 quality assurance workers. Over 600 Activision QA testers have joined a union, making it the biggest worker-formed organization in video games. Avalanche Studios, Raven Software and several small development studios have all also unionized in the past year or so.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sega-of-america-workers-have-ratified-their-union-contract-185906593.html?src=rss

Activision’s union, with 600 members, 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. 

CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. said Microsoft kept its promise to let workers decide for themselves whether they want a union. Part of Microsoft's pledge when it agreed to make a pact with the CWA was that it would take neutral approach during a union campaign, and the company said it didn't interfere or influence people's votes. 

Another element of their agreement was giving employees access to "innovative technology-supported and streamlined process for choosing whether to join a union," which includes not having to petition the National Labor Relations Board for an election. In this instance, the workers only had to sign a union authorization card or to vote online. According to The New York Times, 390 workers voted in favor of forming a union, while eight people were opposed to it. Around 200 more didn't cast their vote. 

In early 2023, Microsoft also recognized a union with 300 workers for Zenimax, the owner of Bethesda and another one of the company's video gaming subsidiaries, which was the largest one for the video game industry at the time. Those workers also unionized under the simpler process enabled by the company's agreement with CWA. By the end of the year, Microsoft agreed to hire 77 temporary QA contractors as full-time unionized Zenimax employees, which was a welcomed win for workers in an industry beset by layoffs.  

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/activisions-union-with-600-members-is-now-the-biggest-one-in-video-games-143000869.html?src=rss

Activision’s union, with 600 members, 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. 

CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. said Microsoft kept its promise to let workers decide for themselves whether they want a union. Part of Microsoft's pledge when it agreed to make a pact with the CWA was that it would take neutral approach during a union campaign, and the company said it didn't interfere or influence people's votes. 

Another element of their agreement was giving employees access to "innovative technology-supported and streamlined process for choosing whether to join a union," which includes not having to petition the National Labor Relations Board for an election. In this instance, the workers only had to sign a union authorization card or to vote online. According to The New York Times, 390 workers voted in favor of forming a union, while eight people were opposed to it. Around 200 more didn't cast their vote. 

In early 2023, Microsoft also recognized a union with 300 workers for Zenimax, the owner of Bethesda and another one of the company's video gaming subsidiaries, which was the largest one for the video game industry at the time. Those workers also unionized under the simpler process enabled by the company's agreement with CWA. By the end of the year, Microsoft agreed to hire 77 temporary QA contractors as full-time unionized Zenimax employees, which was a welcomed win for workers in an industry beset by layoffs.  

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/activisions-union-with-600-members-is-now-the-biggest-one-in-video-games-143000869.html?src=rss

NLRB finds that eBay and subsidiary TCGPlayer engaged in union-busting practices

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that eBay has violated the rights of unionized workers at TCGPlayer, a trading card marketplace owned by the company. This comes in response to charges filed by the Communications Workers of America back in March of this year. eBay has allegedly refused to recognize TCGPlayer’s worker union and it delayed participating in any bargaining practices and it has also refused to divulge any information with the group that the union is legally entitled to.

As part of its examination of the issue, the NLRB said that because eBay and TCGPlayer broke the law, the company must face legal consequences for its union-busting practices. The union, which officially formed in March following numerous anti-union actions from eBay and TCGPlayer, was denied representation during disciplinary investigations. The NLRB also found that eBay was changing working conditions and benefits without engaging in bargaining with the group. On top of that, eBay is said to have even enforced rules that would punish any workers’ elections to unionize.

While the NLRB lays out evidence of eBay’s union-busting practices, it did not officially issue a decision on the matter. The agency is still waiting on the company’s response to the issue. “Now that the board has come to a decision on eBay’s illegal practices, we hope the company will see the light, obey labor law and engage in good faith bargaining practices so that workers can secure a strong union contract,” Dennis Trainor, Communications Workers of America District 1 Vice-President, said in a statement. eBay could not be reached for comment.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nlrb-finds-that-ebay-and-subsidiary-tcgplayer-engaged-in-union-busting-practices-205337429.html?src=rss