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Nickelodeon and Disney developer Workinman unanimously votes to unionize
Workinman's election marks the newest effort for game developer unionization in months, and is the United States' first union to be formed under IATSE.
September 28, 2023
2 Min Read
Staff at licensed game developer Workinman Interative have unanimously voted to unionize. The union is made up of around 20 project managers, artists, and assistants.
Unlike other recent game industry unions, which have been formed under the Communication Workers of America (CWA), Workinman's was made under International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). IATSE's purview covers technical and art positions in the entertainment industry, and Workinman is its first developer-made union in the United States.
Workinman has largely developed games for larger companies such as Disney (Disney Junior Summer Arcade) and Nickelodeon (Super Brawl World). Its staff filed for an election with the NLRB in mid-August after management failed to voluntarily recognize the union.
"It’s very rewarding seeing something you’ve worked so hard for actually come to fruition," wrote Workinman developer Cori Mori. "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."
"I feel overwhelmingly happy for this win, and know that I am not alone in that," added developer Joel Shuart. "I know there is still work to be done, but I hope this win can inspire others in the games industry."
IATSE considers Workinman's new union a direct response to the "widespread challenges" it recorded across the industry, such as continued layoffs and a lack of employee retention.
In a survey from earlier in September, developers (both triple-A and independent) confessed their concern about the state of the industry as studios close and regularly lay off dozens (or hundreds) of employees.
The unionization story so far
Within the last year, there's been a large unionization push at developers of all different sizes. At the start of the year, for example, QA workers at ZeniMax Studios and Bethesda unanimously voted to unionize.
Similar unions have been formed at Bandcamp (before its incoming separation from parent company Epic Games), Blizzard Albany, and Sega of America. In some cases, these unions have included non-QA staff from other departments.
Not all unions have been readily accepted, and some have even faced alleged interference from their respective management. But their successful votes do show that a unionized industry is possible.
BREAKING: Workers at Workinman Interactive voted UNANIMOUSLY in favor of unionizing w/ IATSE in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election.— IATSE // #IASolidarity (@IATSE) September 27, 2023
In doing so, these workers just became the first unit of dedicated video game workers under IATSE in the United States! 🎮 pic.twitter.com/AxnXV4rPX0
About the Author(s)
Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com
A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.
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