Workers at Vodeo Games, developer of Beast Breaker, have formed the first-ever North American video game studio union, named Vodeo Workers United. Studio management chose to recognise the union, meaning it doesn't have to go to a National Labor Relations Board vote. The union is comprised of both full-time and contracted employees at Vodeo.
This is a historic step for worker rights in the North American video game industry. Vodeo was only founded this year and launched Beast Breaker in September, and the studio already has a four day work week. This union shows that companies don't have to be 'bad' for workers to want to unionise. Unions ensure workers are getting their fair share – which many aren't – and help to represent them in negotiations with management.
As reported by Polygon, Vodeo designer Carolyn Jong told the publication the workers thought unionising could "help set a positive precedent for the digital games industry.” Workers at large studios are already organising amid increasing reports of workplace abuse, harassment, and poor conditions. Vodeo unionising could be the spark that triggers a wave of further recognised worker groups.
Workers at Activision Blizzard formed the Activision Blizzard King Workers Alliance back in July, after a lawsuit filed by the state of California accused the company of having a "frat boy culture." ABK Workers Alliance recently set up a strike fund amid a work stoppage in order to raise money for workers staging a walkout in protest of conditions at the company.
ABetterUbisoft has also been formed, comprised of current and former employees fighting to make the company a better place to work. Ubisoft recently admitted that it had not handled allegations of workplace misconduct properly,
Many managers in the US fear unionisation as it places power into the hands of workers, rather than keeping it at the top of companies. An Activision executive sent out an email last week urging workers to "consider the consequences" of unionisation. This email went out just a day after the strike fund was set up.
Hopefully, the successful creation of Vodeo Workers United is just the first of many new video game unions – Austalia also just saw its first.
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