In the wake of Activision Blizzard's massive layoff wave, a move that was announced in the same call as the company's record quarter, the union federation AFL-CIO has published an open letter to game developers urging members of the industry to organize. The AFL-CIO itself is the largest labor organization in the United States and counts 55 individual unions (and more than 12.5 million workers) among its affiliates. The letter, readable in full on Kotaku, calls out many of the issues that have prompted conversations about unionization in just recent years like excessive crunch, toxic work conditions, inadequate pay, and job instability. The industry, points out AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler, boasted sales 3.6 times greater than those of the film industry in 2018, yet much of that financial success isn't felt by the developers working on the games that generate those billions. "Executives are always quick to brag about your work. It's the talk of every industry corner office and boardroom. They pay tribute to the games that capture our imaginations and seem to defy economic gravity. They talk up the latest innovations in virtual reality and celebrate record-smashing releases, as your creations reach unparalleled new heights," says Shuler.
"My question is this: what have you gotten in return? They get rich.
They get notoriety. They get to be crowned visionaries and regarded as
pioneers. What do you get? Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks.
Stressful, toxic work conditions that push you to your physical and
mental limits. The fear that asking for better means risking your dream
job. [...] Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together
in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective
voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day. No
matter where you work, bosses will only offer fair treatment when you
stand together and demand it."