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February 2019, Week 3

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 		 [Given ongoing issues in the games industry, the AFL-CIO recently
reached out to Kotaku about addressing the people who make games. The
AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in the United States
across more than 50 labor unions] [https://portside.org/] 

 PORTSIDE LABOR 

 AN OPEN LETTER TO GAME DEVELOPERS FROM AMERICA'S LARGEST LABOR
ORGANIZATION  
[https://portside.org/2019-02-17/open-letter-game-developers-americas-largest-labor-organization]


 

 Liz Shuler 
 February 15, 2019
Kotaku
[https://kotaku.com/an-open-letter-to-game-developers-from-americas-largest-1832652654]


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 _ Given ongoing issues in the games industry, the AFL-CIO recently
reached out to Kotaku about addressing the people who make games. The
AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in the United States
across more than 50 labor unions _ 

 , Illustration: Jim Cooke 

 

_Editors note: Given ongoing issues in the games industry, _t_he
AFL-CIO recently reached out to Kotaku about addressing the people who
make games. The AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in the
United States across more than 50 labor unions (including the Writers
Guild of America, of which Kotaku and its sister sites’ staffs are
members). This letter from secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler is the
group’s first major public statement about organizing game
developers._

If an investor was searching for the country’s most explosively
successful commodity, they might look to the ground for natural
resources or to Wall Street for some new financial instrument. But,
the most meteoric success story can be found virtually all around
us—in the booming video game industry. Growing by double digits,
U.S. video game sales reached $43 billion in 2018, about 3.6 times
greater than the film industry’s record-breaking box office.

It’s a stunning accomplishment—one built by legions of tireless
game developers. There’s nothing more powerful than throwing
yourself into your craft, putting in day after day of passionate, hard
work.

Through the fog of sleepless nights that fade into morning, piles of
crumpled Red Bull cans and incessant pressure from management, you
have accomplished the unthinkable. You’ve built new worlds, designed
new challenges and ushered in a new era of entertainment.

Now it’s time for industry bosses to start treating you with
hard-earned dignity and respect.

Executives are always quick to brag about your work. It’s the talk
of every industry corner office and boardroom. They pay tribute to the
games that capture our imaginations and seem to defy economic gravity.
They talk up the latest innovations in virtual reality and celebrate
record-smashing releases, as your creations reach unparalleled new
heights.

My question is this: what have you gotten in return? While you’re
putting in crunch time, your bosses are ringing the opening bell on
Wall Street. While you’re creating some of the most groundbreaking
products of our time, they’re pocketing billions. While you’re
fighting through exhaustion and putting your soul into a game, Bobby
Kotick and Andrew Wilson are toasting to “their” success.

They get rich. They get notoriety. They get to be crowned visionaries
and regarded as pioneers.

What do you get?

Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks. Stressful, toxic work
conditions that push you to your physical and mental limits. The fear
that asking for better means risking your dream job.

We’ve heard the painful stories of those willing to come forward,
including one developer who visited the emergency room three times
before taking off from work. Developers at Rockstar Games recently
shared stories of crunch time that lasted for months and even years in
order to satisfy outrageous demands from management, delivering a game
that banked their bosses $725 million in its first three days.

This is a moment for change. It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t
come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person.

Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a
strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice
to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.

No matter where you work, bosses will only offer fair treatment when
you stand together and demand it. Fortunately, the groundwork is
already being laid as grassroots groups like Game Workers Unite
embrace the power of solidarity and prove that you don’t have to
accept a broken, twisted status quo.

You have the power to demand a stake in your industry and a say in
your economic future. What’s more, you have millions of brothers and
sisters across the country standing with you.

Your fight is our fight, and we look forward to welcoming you into our
union family. Whether we’re mainlining caffeine in Santa Monica,
clearing tables in Chicago or mining coal in West Virginia, we deserve
to collect nothing less than the full value of our work.

_Liz Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO,
the country’s largest federation of labor unions. To learn more
about organizing your workplace, visit aflcio.org/formaunion
[http://aflcio.org/formaunion]._

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