Workers at New York-based video game studio Workinman Interactive have unanimously voted to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
The group filed for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election on August 17 and a mail-in vote was held from September 12-26. On the 27th, the NLRB tallied the votes, and of the 20 eligible voters, 16 voted in favor of the union and zero opposed.
This is the first time that a group of video game workers have voted to unionize with IATSE in the United States.
Based in Rochester, New York, Workinman works with companies including Nickelodeon, Disney, and Nintendo. Key projects include Nickelodeon’s Super Brawl World and SpongeBob’s Game Frenzy, Disney’s Lion Guard: Protectors of the Pridelands and Disney Junior Summer Arcade, and games for toy companies including Fisher-Price and Little Tikes.
After the NLRB election votes were tallied, Workinman QA tester Matteo Collier said:
I believe that today’s unanimous ballot count is a testament to how strong and collected our union has been. And not just here at Workinman, but everyone that has lent their support and encouragement. This is an incredible step forward, and I’m excited to move towards the next leg of the journey.
Junior developer Cori Mori added:
It’s very rewarding to see something you’ve worked so hard for actually come to fruition. I’m so grateful for all the support we’ve received during this time, and I look forward to seeing how Workinman will grow in the coming years. I hope this sets a precedent for other studios going through similar situations.
IATSE International president Matthew D. Loeb said:
Today’s unanimous vote is not merely a win for Workinman Interactive workers, but it echoes as a powerful beacon for change and unity across the gaming industry. The issues faced by video game workers mirror the challenges the founders of IATSE sought to overcome, and we look forward to addressing longstanding industry issues through collective bargaining in collaboration with the employers.
Now that the NLRB election results have been confirmed, IATSE and Workinman are obliged to enter good-faith negotiations to draft a contract that addresses the needs of the new bargaining unit. Collective bargaining agreements typically include terms and conditions of employment such as wages, hours, and working conditions. No date for the negotiations has been announced yet.
Although the Workinman unit is the first to unionize with IATSE, other video game workers have embraced collective bargaining over the past several years. Quality assurance workers at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard company, voted to unionize through the Communications Workers of America last year. 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).
Earlier this month, IATSE released the 2023 Gameworkers.org rates and conditions survey, which outlines many of the critical factors that have so many gaming employees considering unionization. Among them are job insecurity, insufficient compensation, extreme hours, and a lack of collective representation.
Pictured at top: Super Brawl World