Left Arrow Resources

Unionization Information [2023]

29 Apr 2020

It is important for developers to understand all of the options available to protect their best interests. Unions are one such tool that can provide additional job protection, negotiation abilities, and increased workplace benefits and beneficial policies. 

There are many types of unions and approaches to unions. This page is intended to provide game developers with informative and actionable information and resources about unions and unionization. 

What is a Union?

A union is a workers’ organization which represents its members and which tries to improve things such as their working conditions and pay. Unions are recognized by many governments as official entities with laws in place on their rights. These organizations often make use of the collective bargaining power of their workers united, and can host strikes and other demonstrations to encourage change. 

In general, unions look to provide and improve:

  1. Compensation and benefits
  2. Protection from unfair treatment
  3. Defined working hours 
  4. Working conditions
  5. Leave policies (e.g. sick leave, maternity leave, etc) 
  6. Workplace policies 
  7. Any issue or topic that workers deem important

Types of Unions

There are many different types of unions, but several main types are described below.

Craft Union

Craft unions represent workers of the same skill or occupation, such as game design or quality assurance. 

Industrial Union

Industrial Unions represent all workers in the same industry, regardless of their skills. An industrial union could represent the full range of game developers within the game industry. 

Local Union / Union Branch

A local branch of a national trade union. These branches represent the best interest of their members in their geographic area, company, or business sector. 

“Company Union”

A “Company Union” is not recognized as a classification of a union, as it describes a local union for employees of a single firm and is dominated or influenced by the employer. This type of “union” has been criticized for its use in confusing or misleading workers out of self-governing collective organizing and is considered to constitute acts of interference per international labour law (ILO Convention 98, Article 2).

Workplace Union

A union representing workers at a single company without being part of a national union. Employers should not be able to exhibit influence due to international labour law (ILO Convention 98, Article 2). 

It is important to note that the structures of unions are often mixed from the various models listed above and many factors influence workers’ decision to organize along industrial or craft lines.

Protections

Union protections vary from country to country. Before you take action that may affect your career, be sure to review your local laws to understand the protections you are provided. 

In general, most countries with unions have laws that protect workers from employers:

  1. Threatening your job, hours, or other punishments for discussing or engaging in union activities. 
  2. Preventing you from soliciting members outside of work hours. 
  3. Question you about internal union information. 
  4. Inquire if you are part of a union or are looking to join a union. 
  5. Threatening retaliation if a union is formed. 

Union Resources

Union rules vary greatly from region to region. Below is a collection of resources about unions in various regions. 

UNI Global – an international union federation comprising many game unions across the globe

Organizing Your Workplace

CODE Organizer Training Program

North America

Communications Workers of America  & the CODE-CWA Initiative – organizing thousands of tech and game workers

General Labor Union Information

European Union

General Trade Union Information

Joining a Trade Union – UK

Oceania 

Australian Unions

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

If you have additional union resources that can be added to this page, please contact us.

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