A supermajority of employees at Workinman Interactive has filed a petition to unionize under the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
According to IATSE, management at the company refused to voluntarily recognize the union, so a petition for representation election with the National Labor Relations Board was filed on August 16.
Based in Rochester, New York, Workinman works with companies including Nickelodeon, Disney, and Nintendo to create interactive experiences for museums and community spaces. According to IATSE, Workinman employees want to improve working conditions and set a precedent for other gaming industry workers.
Workinman project manager Matthew Vimislik explained:
Game production is a cacophony of different jobs and disciplines pitted against each other for smaller and smaller pieces of a big pie. I believe IATSE’s experiences representing wide swathes of the entertainment industry gives us the best chance of navigating the various needs of our workers, and create a sense of solidarity for artists, programmers, producers, and engineers.
In a statement, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said:
IATSE was built by workers in the entertainment industry who faced long hours, precarious employment, and pay that didn’t reflect their skills, talents, and dedication. The issues facing video game workers are the very issues this union has fought to address through collective bargaining for 130 years. Between major IATSE employers expanding into games to create new revenue streams, several IATSE members who have taken their unique professional expertise into this thriving field, and an unprecedented wave of solidarity that’s breaking down old barriers across the entertainment industry, now is the time.
Although the Workinman unit is the first to unionize with IATSE, other groups of video game workers have been embracing collective bargaining over the past few years. Quality assurance workers at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard company, voted to unionize last year through the Communications Workers of America. In December, QA testers at Blizzard Albany joined their colleagues in seeking union representation. In April of this year, a supermajority of workers at Sega of America announced that they are unionizing as the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS). And several other groups in the U.S. and Canada have begun to organize, mirroring what has been happening with production workers in animation and more recently, vfx workers.