The fight to unify the games industry reached the White House on Thursday. Alex Speidel, one of the leading organizers of Paizo United Workers, then met with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in the Oval Office. The meeting was confirmed with an official photo on the President’s Twitter account.
Present at the Oval Office with Speidel were members of Titmouse Productions (), organized under the IATSE. Amazon Workers Union President Chris Smalls was also in attendance. Its chairman, Senator Bernie Sanders, invited Smalls, the highest – profile labor leader at the event, to testify before the Senate Budget Committee.
SEE: Introductory statement from Amazon Union President Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) before the Senate Budget Committee.
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“This is neither left nor right,” said Smalls, speaking of the right to unite without interfering with illegal management. “This is a workforce issue, and these companies are run by the workers at the bottom.”
Sanders seized the opportunity to criticize anti-union activity at Amazon. “Amazon has come a long way – both legally and illegally – to counter union organizational efforts,” he said.
While workers at Amazon fulfillment centers around the country had a hard time organizing their workplaces, Paizo workers had a much smoother journey on their path to voluntary recognition – that is, formal recognition as a collective bargaining unit by management Paizo. According to Speidel, the final push was made with the help of a team of freelance writers who simply stopped accepting new work.
According to a press release issued by Paizo workers, Speidel shared with President Biden how these volunteers began “refusing the tasks of a company in solidarity with the workers’ request to voluntarily recognize their union”. That collective action, Speidel said, was crucial to strengthening the position of full – time workers.
“It was a great honor to be able to talk about the CWA campaign to organize gaming and technology workers, and to share the great work being done by United Paizo Workers and our team of freelance writers,” Speidel said in the press release. “I am hopeful that the administration will continue to support workers organizing union entry into all industries, and that we will be able to bring this momentum back to CWA to continue the CODE-CWA campaign. Every worker deserves a trade union. “
CODE-CWA was created in 2020 with the help of Emma Kinema, co – founder of Game Workers Unite, a community organization working to unite the video game industry. Ironically, the workers in a company known for its pen and paper role-playing games are the ones who helped to advance. Since then, other union efforts have emerged at Raven Software (part of Activision Blizzard) and Keywords Studios, which works with BioWare and other developers and publishers to provide quality assurance (QA) support.