Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision/Blizzard came with a few interesting tidbits. Everyone talks about exclusivity and dormant IP revivals. One thing that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much is that Phil Spencer and Microsoft would recognize Raven Software’s newly formed union. At some point, I will go into length on unionization in gaming. Today we are just going to discuss some pros and cons of unionization.
Having a union for game developers among others could be a huge blessing. I have a plethora of experience when it comes to being a part of a union because I am a union representative. The union I am a part of is the United Steelworkers Union (the full name actually much longer) which represents people globally. Through my experience as a union rep, I have had a wide variety of experiences in the workplace. Everything from harassment, sexual harassment, fighting, hate speech, and much more. Especially dealing with hateful and power-hungry salaried employees (salaried employees are not part of the union).
Raven Software will be represented by the Gamers Workers Alliance. This is a union affiliated with the CWA known as the Communications Workers of America. At some point like I said I will dive deeper into the union world, but for now, let’s get into some pros and cons.
Pros Of Unionization
Being in a union is mostly positive in my experience. At one point there was a supervisor who despised me. Because every time he did something wrong, I was there to fix it for my union brothers and sisters. Union reps or stewards would oversee fellow members when they are being disciplined or written up. This is excellent because in many cases, the union member can feel intimidated or the supervisor can be biased against certain people. Unions protect people’s rights even when it comes to things like taking breaks, pay disputes, and making workers do things unsafely or that are not their jobs. You would be surprised how often a person was told to go outside during a bad thunderstorm. Especially since the machinery, we operate is made out of metal.
A big thing is if the company and union cannot come to an agreement when a new contract is due. When this happens and no agreements are reached then obviously the employees are allowed to strike. In this type of financial situation because people aren’t working the union helps as many families as they can financially. It might not be someone’s full check, but it is helpful for their family. It’s hard to wrap all the pros up in a short section, but in my opinion, unions are 98%-99% positive.
Cons Of Unionization
When it comes to the cons of unions, it is a short list. You have a lot of people that do not want any union dues coming out of their paychecks. In the long run, if a strike occurs it could help people financially. Some unions pay some of those dues back in rewards as well to their members. There can be two big cons to having a union, but they can be avoided entirely.
If something happens and the situation cannot be resolved between the company and the union then it gets taken to arbitration. This is where a neutral third party investigates the situation and decides a ruling that is final. To avoid this, some companies and unions might make deals on certain write-ups or situations. For example, if someone was wrongfully disciplined, the company could agree to throw it out if the union favors them in a different situation. Not all unions are like this and it’s few and far between.
Most of the time unions vote for their officials. The other big con is actually for your union representatives. In my few years of experience, I have had some workers in the wrong, and still, represented them to my fullest abilities. There have been some situations where the worker will say bad stuff about me or other union reps. Some of this is even hate speech. I have had people try to fight me (union workers and supervisors) or even spit on me because I could not get them out of a write-up that they actually deserved. In some cases, I have saved people’s jobs and even saved someone from sexual harassment. Based on my experience, these are the only cons worth mentioning.
Unions are overall a good thing for gaming and Microsft acknowledging Raven’s union is a huge step for unionization. People often talk about how crunch time affects workers negatively overall and this could help. Bad work environments where hateful and despicable things such as sexual harassment, discrimination, and many other things can be prevented. Unionization could prevent heinous situations from happening like what the workers at Activision/Blizzard and Ubisoft had to suffer through. So I am all for unions in gaming and respecting the workers in their workplaces.
All for workers getting all the time they need in a respectable way to complete their projects and games. Unions can help many people, but the workers and representatives both need to be treated equally with respect and dignity. If this happens gaming could flourish even more than it does now.
This is the Golden Age of Gaming -Pong Soul
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