The New Labor Forum has a monthly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.
The global video game industry – catering to 2.5 billion gamers across the world who annually purchase upwards of $152 billion in games – has become a new site of labor organizing. The mostly young people who carry out the game design, programming, aesthetics, and quality assurance for games like Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft, are finding reasons aplenty to unite as workers. Having largely grown up without an experience of unions, their passion for video games has run headlong into the 50 to 70-hour work weeks (known as “crunch”) that are common in the industry prior to a game’s release. Often these hours go unpaid or underpaid. And once the games are released, mass layoffs are common, and those who have contributed to the game’s development often find their names missing from the credit rolls.
In the current issue of New Labor Forum, Jamie Woodcock describes nascent worker organizing in the U.K. that arose outside of traditional union channels, largely on-line, foregrounding demands for worker control more so than for wage increases. Woodcock assesses the use of social media as an organizing tool and conjectures on the lessons the UK campaign offers to game workers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Recent self-organizing among game workers in the U.S. has, in fact, spurred the formation in early January of the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees launched by the Communication Workers of America. We offer an article from the L.A. Times that describes that budding effort. And we conclude with a talk by Jamie Woodcock on his book, Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle.
Table of Contents
Organizing in the Game Industry: The Story of Game Workers Unite U.K. / Jamie Woodcock, New Labor Forum
Major union launches campaign to organize video game and tech workers / Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times
Video: Jamie Woodcock presents Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle / Jamie Woodcock
Featuring worker-leaders from The Model Alliance and Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Learn about their worker-driven approach to end and prevent sexual assault and discrimination from the tomato fields of Florida to the fashion industry in New York, as well as their current campaigns to grow worker power and ensure respect in the workplace.
Co-sponsored by: Alliance for Fair Food and Student/ Farmworker Alliance
Hear expert analysis on the 2020 primary elections and updates on the race to become the Democratic nominee in this interactive Super Tuesday recap event. Bring your questions and comments!
BASIL SMIKLE, PhD
Political Commentator at CNN and MSNBC; Faculty at Columbia University; Former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party; Former Distinguished Lecturer in Urban Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Last Friday, members of the broader SLU community gathered for a discussion about voter suppression and the pathway to expanding the vote:
Given the especially high stakes of the 2020 election, the need for broad and unobstructed voter participation could not be greater. Yet the past decade has seen a plethora of legal curtailments on voting rights. Since 2010, 25 states have adopted strict photo ID requirements, curbs on early voting, and voter registration restrictions that have all served to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a major win of the Civil Rights movement. Finally, the perennial challenge of voter turnout still exists – over 25% of eligible voters are unregistered, and only 50% of registered voters are expected to vote, making the prospects for a truly democratic election in 2020 very concerning.
What lessons can be gleaned from a long history of heroic efforts to ensure equal voting opportunities and rights for all? What are advocates, unions, and other activists doing to combat voter suppression and promote voter registration and turnout in the upcoming election? What should be the top legislative priorities of a more progressive, post-2020 federal government to strengthen our democracy by expanding the vote?
Gloria Browne-Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Gerry Hudson Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Deepak Bhargava Distinguished Lecturer, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies Former Executive Director, Center for Community Change
On January 28th, following 10 months of failed negotiations, nearly 8,000 employees of Swedish Health Services, all members of SEIU 1199 Northwest—a union representing more than 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers throughout Washington State and Montana—walked out on a three-day strike. Right there on the picket lines with them was SLU alumna Mia Ragozino.
Ragozino, who earned her Masters in Labor Studies in 2019, recently joined SEIU 1199NW as an organizer. “SEIU 1199 was a good fit for me,” said Mia. “It’s an organizing union with a racial justice lens and a concernfor workers’ safety.” She said the strike was a last resort in the union’s fight for not just fair compensation, but for adequate staffing and patient safety. “Since corporate giant Providence took over the Swedish healthcare system, management has prioritized profits and executive pay over patients’ needs and workers’ rights.” She noted that three presidential candidates had tweeted in support of the walk-out, including Senators Sanders, Warren, and Pete Buttigieg.
Mia says her learning experiences at SLU prepared her well for her current role. “SLU prioritizes the education of people and workers of color. And learning about the history of the labor movement was a huge eye-opener for me.” After SLU, Mia attended Cornell ILR’s summer institute for strategic corporate research. While there, she learned about the job with SEIU 1199NW.
Mia credits Professor Stephanie Luce with not only inspiring her, but for recommending her for the position in Seattle. “She was a role model for me,” said Mia, “and she helped me get started in the career I always wanted to pursue. It all came together at SLU.”
Professor Luce returned the compliment: “It was a joy to have Mia as a student,” she said. “Her energy and passion for social justice inspired other students as well as me. Given her sharp mind and research skills, SEIU 1199NW is lucky to have her!”
Read more about the SEIU 1199 healthcare workers’ strike here.
The New York Metro labor Communications Council is offering a
$500 prize for work by undergraduate and graduate students on the theme:
“The 2020 Elections and My Life/My Community”
The country is about to elect a president in November; additional state and local elections will take place. How will this impact your life and/or the life of your community/communities. What issues are most important to you and are candidates talking about them? You are encouraged to write or make a short video or audio recording about the impact of these elections on you—as a student, a worker, and that of your family or community.
The prize is given to the student whose work touches our emotions and/or brings insight to this issue. The prize will be awarded for a written article of approximately 1200 words, or for a video or audio report of two to six minutes. The topic is wide open for you to explore.
Application Deadline: May 4, 2020
Established in 1974, the Metro New York Labor Communications Council (Metro) includes union communications professionals, who work for the city’s public and private-sector unions and other organizations representing working people. They are editors and reporters, photographers and graphic designers, broadcast producers and public relations specialists. Metro provides a forum to discuss pressing issues in the labor movement, and shares ideas on how labor communicators can tell the story of working people.
Please include your name and the school you are attending.
Students do not need to be journalism majors.
Send entries to:
341 West 24 Street, #5D, New York, NY 10011
or email it to: email@example.com
For more information and to apply, please contact:Margarita Aguilar: 212-982-0574 or firstname.lastname@example.org