Belabored: Game Workers Unite and Win, with Emma Kinema

Belabored: Game Workers Unite and Win, with Emma Kinema

Workers at a division of games conglomerate Activision Blizzard shocked the industry by becoming one of the first collective bargaining units in U.S. gaming.

Several hundred Activision Blizzard employees stage a walkout in summer 2021. (Allen J. Schaben / Getty Images)

[contentblock id=belabored-info-ck]


itunes-icon rss-icon stitcher-icon

Last week, workers at Raven Software, a division of major video game production company Activision Blizzard, voted to unionize, forming one of the first collective bargaining units in the games industry in the United States. The small group of quality assurance testers shocked the industry, but not our guest Emma Kinema, a former game worker turned senior campaign lead at the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees-Communications Workers of America (CODE-CWA). She joins us to talk Raven, Activision, and games and tech-industry organizing more broadly.

We also hear from Grace, a member of the latest union drive at a Planned Parenthood affiliate under the looming repeal of Roe v. Wade, and about a settlement for Victoria’s Secret garment workers in Thailand from the Solidarity Center’s David Welsh. We look in on the latest conditions for gig workers around the country (spoiler alert: they’re bad) and Seattle’s attempt to improve them. And for Argh, we consider what longtime organizers could learn from unexpected victories at Amazon and Starbucks, and a report on employers holding workers’ past sex work against them.

Catch up with Belabored at Labor Notes June 17-19! We’ll be hosting Belabored LIVE from the conference on Friday 6/17 at 5pm, and you can find us on several other panels throughout the weekend, talking China, labor radio, and essential workers. For more details check out the conference schedule here

Thank you for listening to our 248th episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.

If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at


Anne D’Innocenzio, Thai garment workers win $8.3M in back pay after layoffs, ABC News

Matt Nesterak, Planned Parenthood workers in five states announce intent to unionize, Minnesota Reformer

National survey of gig workers paints a picture of poor working conditions, low pay, Economic Policy Institute

Seattle’s PayUp Policy, Working Washington

Sarah Grace Taylor, Seattle City Council passes ‘Pay Up’ bill, raising wages for certain gig workers, Seattle Times



Kari Paul, Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software workers vote to form industry’s first union, Guardian

Kellen Browning, A Vote by Activision Workers Could Give Unions a Foothold in Gaming, New York Times

Sarah Jaffe, Organizing Big Tech, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung

Sarah Jaffe, Tech’s new labor movement is harnessing lessons learned a century ago, Technology Review

Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Michelle: J. Edward Moreno, Prior Sex Work Haunts Employees Returning to Traditional Job, Bloomberg Law

Sarah: Chris Brooks, How Amazon and Starbucks Workers Are Upending the Organizing Rules, In These Times