Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Unions Got This - #YouGotThisConf 2020

Unions Got This - #YouGotThisConf 2020

Unions don’t usually come up in history class. If they do, they’re normally accompanied by talk of miners and Thatcherism. But we’re not taught what unions actually do for the modern, nine-to-five worker. That’s where this talk comes in.

This will be a whistle-stop tour of what unionism means in today’s world of tech. We’ll briefly cover what a union is, the various shapes and sizes they take and what they can do for you, using the recently formed Game Workers Unite UK branch of the IWGB as an example.

We’ll also touch upon the happenings across the pond at Kickstarter and Vox Media as well as how the international movements of Game Workers Unite and the Tech Workers Coalition are bringing unionism into tech industries.

Dan C. Parkes

January 18, 2020

Other Decks in Education


  1. What is a trade union? A trade union is an

    organisation with members, usually workers or employees. It looks after their interests at work by doing things like: • negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions • discussing big changes like large scale redundancy • discussing members’ concerns with employers • going with members to disciplinary and grievance meetings https://www.gov.uk/join-trade-union http://www.unionancestors.co.uk/
  2. Benefits Fight for better working conditions: • limits on the

    working day/week, the weekend • longer annual leave • binding employment contracts • parental leave • minimum wages • fighting discrimination • a collective way to demand better pay and conditions Campaigning rights
  3. Benefits • Full legal protection support for employment tribunals and

    other legal cases • Trade union rep for advice, disciplinary meetings • The option to strike For you
  4. BECTU • Larger, service union for creative industries • Has

    a games industry cohort • More people, less flexibility • More conservative, less radical • Because of its broad purview, less focused on games (and tangentially, the tech industry)
  5. • There’s a story to the name (too long for

    this talk) • TL;DR: “independent” doesn’t mean self-employed • Focus on workers who traditionally haven’t been unionised before (like the games industry!) • Dynamic, lightweight, not-bureaucratic (unlike Unite or BECTU)
  6. Megaphone != Assault • James Farrar was facing trial at

    Southwark Crown Court accused of assaulting two police officers at a trade union demonstration. • Their allegation relates to sound emanating from a megaphone and no physical contact is alleged. • If the CPS succeeded then no trade union activist or protester will be safe from police prosecution for something as minor as using a megaphone, a drum, a whistle or even for shouting too loudly. • Case thrown out by judge! • Suing police over the malicious prosecution https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/16/trial-of-union-leader-for-assault-by-megaphone-collapses
  7. What is Game Workers Unite UK? • Rank & File

    unionism where each member (xᵢ,yⱼ) is equal. This is different to business unions where a hierarchical structure exists • Game Workers: people who work in the games industry. That includes anybody involved in any operation within the games industry • It is an autonomous branch of the IWGB (the central union) • Affiliated with the Game Workers Unite international movement
  8. SUPPORT Inform workers of their rights and support those who

    are abused, harassed, or need representation
  9. • Aug 2018: Kotaku posted an article about sexist culture

    at Riot • Nov 2018: Female employees sue Riot over alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment • May 2019: Over 150 riot employees walkout • Aug 2019: Riot settles • Dec 2019: Riot to pay $10 million to approximately 1000 women to settle gender discrimination suit https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-12-02/riot-games-gender-discrimination-settlement
  10. Google Walkouts • Nov 2018: Google employees across the globe

    walkout after sexual misconduct allegations • Nov 2019: Google fires the Thanksgiving Four for violating data security policies. • Supporters of the fired employees say it was due to their organising activities
  11. Social Organise meetups • A great way to meet new

    people • Create safe spaces (with good codes of conduct • Use free services like Eventbrite • Why not try to keep it dry!
  12. Educational You’re going to grow! • Be part of a

    huge history of worker-led organising • Stepping stone into other activisim: environment, political • Learn new skills you’ll unlikely get elsewhere
  13. Rewarding It’s worth it • You’ll change lives! • Be

    inspired and inspire others • Joining a cause feels like you’re part of something bigger