If the myth of tech over the past decade has been one of constant innovation, algorithmic scale, and new products and devices that “simply work,” the truth is that all of those illusions were made possible by the obfuscation of labor: the contract content moderators who sanitize the feeds of Facebook and YouTube from violence and extremist content; the warehouse workers at Amazon fulfillment centers trying to meet the guarantees of same-day shipping; the gig workers of all kinds — Uber drivers, food delivery cyclists, Instacart shoppers, among them — all of whom are at the whims of increasingly efficient platforms and wayward legislation. And that’s not even to speak of the white-collar tech workforce that, while better compensated, is still being taken advantage of by NDAs and mandatory arbitration clauses that keep hidden the realities of discrimination and harassment in the office. But now, some workers across tech companies are organizing for better treatment and pay. Others are making efforts to unionize. Most importantly, the movement will reach everyone who works in tech — and anyone who uses those platforms. The story of the tech industry over the next decade will be the reckoning brought on by its workforce.
The lawsuit, which was certified on Friday, is “the largest ever certified under California’s Equal Pay Act,” Variety reports.
VR studio Tender Claws and the Tender Claws Human Union have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement, and it’s “one of the first union contracts for video game developers in the US,” according to a press release. Proposals in the agreement include pay scales, codifying LGBTQIA+ inclusive benefits, benefits like dental insurance, and codifying virtual reality breaks.
Tender Claws is currently developing Stranger Things VR.
[Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA)]
Dream Scenario’s Nic Cage wants you to know that there’s a difference between maximalism and pushing the boundaries of filmmaking as an art.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) voted in favor (78.33 percent to 21.67 percent) of the agreement negotiated last month with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that represents the studios.
The new deal runs through June 30th, 2026, following the first time in 63 years that the unions for actors and writers were on strike at the same time.
The deal includes more than $1 billion in new compensation and benefit plan funding, along with outsized gains to the traditional residuals formulas. It offers a new compensation model for performers working in streaming, with a substantial bonus on top of existing residuals structures, plus compensation escalation for principal and background actors. Additionally, the deal establishes detailed informed consent and compensation guardrails for the use of AI, hair and makeup equity, meaningful protections for the casting process, sexual harassment prevention protections and more.
In 2016, an employee sued Google for having too strict of a confidentiality program, which allegedly discouraged workers from reporting illegal activity in violation of California’s labor laws.
Google’s decision to settle means the majority of the $27 million will go to the state of California, while employees will get anywhere from $20 to $70, according to Semafor. A Google spokesperson tells the publication “that resolution of the matter, without any admission of wrongdoing, is in the best interest of everyone.”
But it feels pretty significant that Amazon reportedly fired longtime producer Joel Silver not of his alleged harassment towards female executives, but as retaliation in response to his refused to “Use artificial intelligence to finish a movie during the strike.
When SAG-AFTRA finally reached a tentative agreement to bring the actors strike to an end earlier this month, the union’s insistence that its members might not be able to look over the deal before voting on it raised more than a few eyebrows.
It seemed odd that union leadership might try to get people on board with the contract without giving them a chance to read the whole thing. But now the union’s released the full document — on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving of all days.
But now that the industry’s ramping back up, Warner Bros. is getting a jump on things by moving the film’s premiere from March 15th to March 1st.
In a memo sent to employees, Daniel Rausch, the vice president of the Alexa and Fire TV team, says Amazon is eliminating “several hundred roles” as the company looks to build up efforts in AI:
As we continue to invent, we’re shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers — which includes maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI. These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in several hundred roles being eliminated.
According to the charge, Sega of America apparently shared a proposal with the Sega union’s bargaining committee that said the company would be phasing out all temporary employees, a group that represents about 40 percent of the bargaining unit — then, Sega announced the proposal to the entire company.
“We believe this is a clear case of bad faith bargaining,” the CWA, which represents the Sega union, said in the charge.
The FAA still hasn’t cleared SpaceX to attempt another Starship orbital launch from its Boca Chica, TX, site after the first one caused significant damage to the pad and surrounding environment. SpaceX’s website and this teaser trailer indicate it’s ready to try again as soon as November 17th.
Those are also popping up on the same day as a report from Reuters documenting 600 injuries to SpaceX workers since 2014.
The records included reports of more than 100 workers suffering cuts or lacerations, 29 with broken bones or dislocations, 17 whose hands or fingers were “crushed,” and nine with head injuries, including one skull fracture, four concussions and one traumatic brain injury.
Musk himself at times appeared cavalier about safety on visits to SpaceX sites: Four employees said he sometimes played with a novelty flamethrower and discouraged workers from wearing safety yellow because he dislikes bright colors.
The Last of Us developer announced head of technology Christian Gyrling is leaving the company after 17 years. In addition to layoffs, Naughty Dog has seen quite a few executive departures, with co-president Evan Wells and narrative designer Josh Scherr leaving earlier this year.
So far, G/O Media shut down Jezebel, slashed even more jobs at The Onion, and made cuts at Gizmodo. Vice staff are also reporting layoffs, and some Popsugar staff lost their jobs as well. (Disclosure: Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company, owns Popsugar.)
G/O Media angered staff and readers this summer when the company began experimenting with generative AI tools. G/O said AI wouldn’t replace the work done by human employees.
Free Radical Design is the next studio affected by Embracer Group’s slow implosion after a $2 billion deal fell through earlier this year. The studio had been re-established to work on a TimeSplitters reboot, and according to VGC, a number of employees have already been let go with the studio itself subject to closure if Embracer can’t find a suitable buyer.
[Video Games Chronicle]
The New York Times reported today that Tesla will meet with striking Swedish union IF Metall on Monday to negotiate an end to the strike, which has been ongoing since October 27th.
Last week, the Times says, dockworkers said they would stop unloading Teslas in solidarity. According to OnLabor, IF Metall widened the strike notice to all Swedish shops that repair Teslas — not just those owned by the company — after TM Sweden said Tesla’s policy forbids union agreements “in any country.”
CEO Devin Finzer says OpenSea is “shifting to a smaller team with a direct connection to users.” Decrypt reports about 50 percent of employees are impacted. When it laid off 20 percent of its employees last year, around 230 people remained.
This chart shows OpenSea activity peaked with over 50,000 active wallets (around the time it was valued at $13 billion) and $140 million in daily volume, which has dropped to fewer than 8,000 active wallets and $2.3 million in volume.
Normally, going on strike means forgoing your salary as a condition of withholding your labor from your employers. Not so for the United Auto Workers. According to the Wall Street Journal, UAW members are set to receive an average of $100 a day for the time they were out on strike. Who’s paying this money, you may ask? Why, the automakers of course: Ford, GM, and Stellantis. It’s an incredibly unusual arrangement and a sign of the union’s commanding victory in its dealings with the companies.
Seriously, somebody give UAW President Shawn Fain the dice. This man is on a hot streak.
Bandcamp United has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Songtradr, the company that purchased Bandcamp from Epic Games, according to a report from 404 Media.
The union alleges that Songtradr refused to hire employees because they “joined or supported a labor organization and in order to discourage union activities or membership,” 404 Media reports. Last month, Songtradr confirmed that only 50 percent of Bandcamp workers were given offers to join Songtradr, with the rest getting laid off.