February 28, 2024

Update: CWA clarifies Microsoft layoffs impact on represented developers – Shiv Telegram Media

Former Blizzard Entertainment VFX artist laid off by Microsoft while being a CWA union member

In a recent turn of events, a former VFX artist at Blizzard Entertainment has claimed to have been laid off by Microsoft, despite being a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union. This raises concerns about how companies handle layoffs and the role of unions in the gaming industry.

Initially, the CWA stated that the layoffs did not impact workers represented by the union. However, CWA Communications Director Beth Allen later clarified that CWA-represented members at Microsoft were not affected by the recent layoffs. This indicates that there may have been some confusion or miscommunication surrounding the issue.

It is worth noting that the CWA represents employees not only at Microsoft but also at Activision Blizzard subsidiaries, such as ZeniMax Studios, Raven Software, and Blizzard Albany. The union urges workers in the gaming industry to organize and have a say in redundancy decisions, regardless of the company’s success or profitability.

The CWA argues that even highly successful and profitable companies can lay off workers without considering their voices and rights. Therefore, the union promises continued support for not only workers at Microsoft but also across the entire gaming industry who wish to have union representation.

Wayne Dayberry, a senior QA tester and member of ZeniMax Workers United-CWA, stresses the importance of workers coming together to protect each other. This shows the growing sentiment among employees in the gaming industry that unionization is necessary to safeguard their interests.

Interestingly, the CWA initially opposed the merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. However, they eventually supported it after reaching a labor neutrality agreement with Microsoft. This agreement ensures that Microsoft will not interfere with union organizing efforts at Activision Blizzard.

The demand for unionization in the gaming industry is also supported by data from the GDC 2024 State of the Industry report, which reveals that a majority of developers favor unionization. However, few are actively discussing this topic in their workplaces. In light of this, Game Developer reached out to the CWA for advice on how developers can take the initial steps towards unionization.

In conclusion, the case of the former VFX artist who was laid off by Microsoft despite being a CWA union member sheds light on the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights in the gaming industry. The incident reinforces the importance of unions in protecting employees and encouraging open dialogues about redundancies and other labor-related matters.