Two game workers' unions met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris yesterday, bringing mainstream attention to their efforts to fight for better conditions in the industry. They appeared alongside Amazon Labour Union president Chris Smalls, who has recently made headlines for organizing Amazon workers despite the company's efforts to stop them.
Reps from United Paizo Workers and Titmouse Productions attended the Oval Office event, and were pictured alongside Biden, Harris, and secretary of labour Marty Walsh. Paizo's Alex Speidel says that he hopes the meeting means that the administration will "continue their support of workers who are organizing", as devs across the gaming industry fight back against multi-million companies.
As reported by Polygon, the meeting was held alongside Chris Smalls' appearance before the Senate Budget Committee.
"Regardless of your political affiliation, I certainly hope we can all agree that being invited to the White House to speak directly to top officials is an incredible honour", Speidel said in a statement after the meeting. "I have some mixed feelings about President Joe Biden. But when he arrived, I was astonished. He walked in, joked that he was 'here to organize this meeting,' and shook my hand. I barely managed to stammer out my name and my union before he moved on to Chris Smalls.
"This is an incredible and historic day for the United Paizo Workers, the game industry, and workers everywhere."
This pro-union message was further publicized with Smalls' testimony. "This is not a left or right thing. This is a working-class issue, and it’s the workers at the bottom that make these corporations go", he said.
While none of the big gaming companies accused of union-busting were called out by name, the practice was condemned. Senator Bernie Sanders, in particular, criticized Amazon for doing "everything possible — legal and illegal — to defeat union organizing efforts." This is similar to the allegations Activision Blizzard and Nintendo have faced in recent months. It remains to be seen how this new wave of attention affects unionization efforts in the industry.
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