A new campaign launched Tuesday by one of the nation’s largest labor unions — and spearheaded by one of the leading video game industry activists in Southern California — aims to organize video game studios and tech offices to form or join a union. The Los Angeles Times reports: The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE for short) is a new project of the Communications Workers of America aimed specifically at unionizing video game and tech companies. It grew out of conversations between the CWA and Game Workers Unite, a grass-roots organization that sprang up in 2018 to push for wall-to-wall unionization of the $43-billion video game industry, alongside conversations with organizers across the larger tech industry. The union declined to specify how much money it was putting behind the new effort, but has put two organizers on payroll to lead the push with support from dozens of CWA staff members across the country. One of the new staffers, Wes McEnany, comes from a more traditional labor organizing career with Boston-area unions and the labor-backed campaign for a $15 minimum wage. CWA also hired Emma Kinema, who co-founded Game Workers Unite and organized the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of the group. The dedicated staff and national ambition set the CODE project apart from other efforts to organize tech workers, such as the United Steelworkers-backed Pittsburgh Assn. of Tech Professionals, which successfully unionized Google subcontractors in September. The organizers behind the new effort see the push for better working conditions and corporate ethics as one and the same. “The new project charts a path away from organizing video game workers along the Hollywood craft union model,” the report adds. “SAG-AFTRA has represented video game voice actors for years, and called a strike in 2017 over pay and royalty structures. But CWA largely follows the industrial union model, which organizes entire companies at once rather than splitting workers who perform different jobs into specialized unions.” Slashdot reader sziring, who first brought the story to our attention, has raised the following questions/concerns: “If unions win out, will open source suffer? If a newly minted tech union worker wants to contribute time towards an open-source project will they be able to? Isn’t rule one typically avoiding free work at all costs? I’m not debating if they should unionize but trying to understand the possible rippler effects if more coders fall under a union umbrella.”
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