News & Commentary

May 24, 2022

Travis Lavenski

Travis Lavenski is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News & Commentary, TIME Magazine workers call off threat to strike; Activision-Blizzard workers vote to unionize; Los Angeles strippers look to organize; and McDonald’s workers in Florida stage a walkout.

TIME Magazine workers announced Monday that they would no longer be walking out on May 23rd if management had not agreed to a fair contract by then. Earlier this month, the union threatened to walk out on May 23rd, coinciding with the release of the notable Time 100 list. The union called off the walkout after management notified the union that the union did not file necessary paperwork with the Federal Government prior to bargaining negotiations. “If we were to strike, employees could be terminated, the union could be sued, and the company could use this as leverage against us at the bargaining table,” the Union stated on Twitter. “That was management’s implied threat.” TIME Union members remain without a contract after nearly 3 years of bargaining. The Union is not giving up, however, pledging to continue the “fight for a fair contract.” This petition urging TIME Magazine to agree to a fair contract remains active.

Big news in the gaming world Monday as workers at Raven Software, a game-testing company owned by videogame giant Activision-Blizzard, voted to unionize by a count of 19-to-3. The union, Game Workers Alliance, represents “the first union at a major North American video game publisher.” Grievances such as poor working conditions (including “crunch conditions” requiring grueling 12 to 14-hour shifts in the leadup to game release dates), layoffs, lack of pay parity, and massive sexual harassment scandals led workers to organize their workplace. The news comes just hours after Bloomberg reported that the Los Angeles regional director of the NLRB determined the company “illegally threatened staff” and issued a social media policy which interfered with their NLRA rights. “It’s going to be the spark that ignites the rest of the industry, I believe,” Jessica Gonzalez, former Activision-Blizzard worker and a key figure in the union campaign, told the New York Times in the leadup to the election.

Workers at a North Hollywood strip club are organizing with Strippers United, More Perfect Union reported Monday. Safety condition concerns are a major driver behind this union drive; the campaign comes soon after two workers were fired by the club after bringing up safety concerns regarding some of the club’s clientele. “If you are harassed, or touched in a way that you don’t like, or recorded, you just have to endure it and do the policing and de-escalation yourself in the moment; and then maybe something retroactively will happen,” one worker told More Perfect Union.  If these workers are successful, the club would become the first strip club in over 30 years to become unionized. This union push serves as an important reminder that sex work is work.

McDonald’s workers in Tampa, Florida walked off the job Monday demanding better wages, improved working conditions, and the right to form a union without company interference. The walkout, organized with the Fight for $15 campaign, marks the third McDonald’s walkout in Florida in less than a week. Similar walkouts have occurred of late at other fast food chains in cities across the US, signaling broader discontent amongst fast-food workers nationally. At a time when the price of goods and services are soaring, we could see more and more low-income workers stand up for better pay and benefits.

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