The game industry needs to change and it begins now

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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Steve Kaplan was in GDC to take part in a roundtable discussion about the pros and cons of unionisation in the games industry. He works in the entertainment industry and had travelled from Los Angeles, where he organises unions for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to be the union rep in the room during the talk. He gave the impression he wanted everyone to be at the table, even the one person in a room of between 150 and 200 people who tried to put across anti-union arguments.

The room was noisy, with applause, appreciative clicking of fingers, and some mocking laughter alongside the occasional raised voice, but the corridor outside had been quiet. The roundtable was removed from the expo’s usual bustle but it was one of the most important events of the show.

Only two people in this article are named, partly because the roundtable itself respected anonymity to the extent of photos being forbidden due to attendees expressing fear of reprisals if their presence and contributions were made public. Some attendees did share their names when speaking but I’ve chosen only to use the names of Kaplan and the one person who appeared to be arguing against the very idea of unions representing workers in the games industry. That was Jen Maclean, moderator of the roundtable and executive director of the International Game Developer Association.

She has since said that the organisation would support workers right to unionise but during her moderation of the panel, she responded to several contributions from those in attendance with variations on a theme: to solve the problems raised, unions would need powers of veto or other elements of control over publishers and studios, and that may be harmful.

To which I pose a follow-up question. If the possibility of poor actions by unions of workers, which end up causing harm to workers and the industry, means they should not form at all, does the non-hypothetical existence of companies that exploit their workforce mean we should never have allowed the industry to form in the first place? It’s a patently ridiculous proposition but if the argument against better representation for workers is based on the premise that mistakes and ill intentions may occur alongside change, that seems to be an argument for the already-existing mistakes and ill intentions to take precedence

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm was affected by the SAG-AFTRA voice actors strike. The developers chose to re-cast the voice roles.

Nobody in the room, least of all Kaplan who was representing not just the idea but the reality of unions, put forward an argument that unions are incapable of error or bad faith. There was idealism alongside the anger and despair, but nobody spoke of unionisation of workers as a magic bullet that would fix the deep-seated problems within the industry, some of which may be impossible to solve without tearing down existing structures and starting again.

Crunch, up-scaling and down-sizing as projects begin and end, exploitation of creative passion through low pay – these are not problems unique to the games industry. There’s a tendency to talk of them in that way, and one developer I spoke to after the roundtable had finished, referred to the industry’s problems as “unique”.

My sense was that the expertise and experience of a representative like Kaplan are vital, not just as a component of the discussion, but as a foundation for the industry’s future. The wider entertainment industry has unions – most famously the various motion picture guilds – and their members face many of the same problems that workers at game studios and publishers do. A film finishes production and there may be a period of unemployment for those who were involved, and those who are drawn to creative careers are often kept on the periphery, earning low wages and working long hours, until they burn out.

Unions haven’t solved these problems in Los Angeles or elsewhere, but they do mitigate the potential traumas, down-turns and exploitation that occur within and between jobs. Healthcare coverage can be extended beyond the final day of work, giving a safety net while the search for the next job begins or continues. Salaries can be negotiated with backing from representatives who have the time to research wage structures and the confidence to argue for compensation in cases where overtime has been enforced through threats of job loss, or even in cases where corporate (or, indeed, industry-wide) culture creates a pressure to work evenings and weekends for the ‘good’ of a project.

Kaplan, and most of the developers and students who spoke, did not once suggest that unionisation would fix the industry, even when Maclean admitted that parts of the games business are “fundamentally broken”. Instead, he calmly and repeatedly offered variations on his own theme: unions are the connective tissue between employer and employee, and when communication breaks down, and in case of harassment and exploitation, they give workers a voice. And they can make demands on behalf of employees who may not understand labour laws sufficiently to fight for their own rights without support.

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We heard from young developers, new to the industry, who were already feeling burnt-out. We heard from industry veterans who expressed solidarity with their younger colleagues for reasons simultaneously humanitarian and pragmatic: “We have an interest in protecting the weak because if we allow them to be exploited, to a company’s benefit, the expectation of how every developer should be treated is lowered.”

“Exploitation starts at the university level,” one speaker said, citing the struggles of students from low-income backgrounds who cannot take on unpaid internships and are therefore immediately disadvantaged given how many career paths expect experience that cannot be gained outside those dire ‘opportunities’. Other contributions came from those who had experienced one-hundred hour work weeks, “bottom of the barrel” healthcare, and nine months of straight crunch with a one week break before the cycle began again.

A developer with twelve years of industry experience said there had been “insane mandatory crunch” at every studio and “tremendous abuse of employees”.

Unions will not fix these problems but for this one part of the entertainment industry to fail its workers by not encouraging – let alone allowing – them to unionise is like refusing to apply a tourniquet because too much blood has already been lost. Change needs to happen and there was absolutely no compelling argument presented as to why unions should not be part of that change. Where companies intimidate their employees, unions can intimidate back. Where education and legal expertise are needed, unions can provide those things. And none of the methods to assist with the problems of this industry need to be invented – they can be borrowed, or at least broadly based, on existing entertainment industry union practices.

There are other issues which unions can fix though. Those who feel marginalised due to their gender, race, sexuality, mental health, physical health, or other aspect of their being, can make changes to their workplace to aid their comfort and wellbeing. They may require support to make those changes though and may not have the confidence to approach their employer about their needs. One speaker shared an example from outside the games industry of the introduction of all-gender bathrooms thanks to union backing.

In these situations, where employees are unhappy and employers may be unaware of that unhappiness or the actions that may help, a union works for the benefit of both sides. The relationship is not necessarily antagonistic and Maclean’s comments and responses often appeared to suggest constant conflict between unions and the industry itself. That was frustrating to many of those present, myself included, and counter-productive to the intended tone of the roundtable, which was apparently intended to open dialogue rather than to chill it.

The dialogue has been opened though and I don’t think it will be closed anytime soon. Certainly not until even more people have been invited to the table, bringing their own expertise and empathy, and making the first steps toward a collective change for the better. It will take time and effort, but a collective change for the better across the industry is coming, and one part of that must be to continue these conversations, and to adopt or adapt existing solutions while creating new ones. The games industry doesn’t stand alone and neither should anyone working within it.

We’ll have an interview in the days ahead with the developers organising to support unionisation as the group Game Workers Unite.

101 Comments

Top comments

  1. Cosmo D says:

    I'm a member of Local 802, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Chapter in New York City. A part of the funding of my game The Norwood Suite came through royalty payments on cello performances I recorded for TV commercials which played on primetime TV. I don't think I'd have had that money to help get Norwood over the line if at some point AFM hadn't negotiated a deal with broadcasting agencies on recording musicians' behalf.

    802 isn't perfect, and AFM might not be as powerful as other arts-centric unions. Still, that support that comes from knowing an independent organization is watching out for its members' financial best interests is real.
  1. Michael Fogg says:

    I hope this catches on and causes a positive change in the coming months and years.

  2. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    I’m normally a very big supporter of unions and have worked a union job previously, but I’m incredibly doubtful that the game developers will be able to unionize. Much the same way that IT turned down their opportunities to form unions in the 80s, game developers had similar ideologies, and now we’re seeing the full extent of what can go wrong without unions. And with giant masses of CompSci grads willing to put up with shit conditions, long hours and insane job insecurity for the opportunity to work in gaming, the established workers have effectively zero collective bargaining power.

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong, and this movement will gather momentum, creating a union that can protect workers from the semi-frequent abuses inherent to the industry.

    • pookie191 says:

      They don’t exactly have reason to treat workers properly at the moment.. Give them insane amounts of crunch and burn them out in 3-5 years, there is always some young kid who has dreamed of working in the business ready to take their place .. and the abuse.

      They need to unionise

      • tekknik says:

        I’m a programmer, also an indie game dev (though I’ve not yet released anything) and I don’t see a need to unionize. Sure I’d like royalties but I’m already paid well enough at my day job to fund my game myself. If my day job starts taking too much time I’ll just move. Silicon Valley area is still seeing a shortage of developers and until that ends moving jobs is very easy and usually comes with a pay/benefits increase. Those that are treated poorly and choose to stay usually have no other choice.

        • sandoze says:

          Bully for you, I left gaming and have seen an x4 increase in my pay. I still live in the tiny house with my family that I purchased as our first gaming studio was shutting down. Obviously with my increase in pay I went from a 30 year mortgage to paying it in full after 3 years.

          I wasn’t even the lowest paid developer (generally the highest) and the people below me made less than minimum wage after the hours we spent working.

          I would return to gaming, even with a significant pay cut because I loved it but only if I had a union backing me for all the reasons mentioned.

    • khamul says:

      The thing is, the abuse isn’t just wrong. It’s also dumb.

      Programming is hard. If you do it when you’re tired, you make more mistakes – and fixing those mistakes takes much longer than just doing it once, and doing it right. Crunch is the answer to project planning issues in the same way that gasoline is a good solution to forest fires. Crunch is the way you declare to the world that you can’t do project planning for shit.

      That’s one side of the coin. On the other side, the difference between an ‘average’ software engineer, and an expert, in the area of their expertise? The expert might be 10 times faster. They might be 100 times faster. They can do stuff that leaves the ‘average’ guy going ‘wow, I didn’t realise that was even *possible*’. Good engineers take time to build and they are bloody valuable. Putting all that value on a bargain basement health package? That’s… that’s not clever.

      I write all this as someone who’s mostly on the other side of the table these days. These aren’t arguments I make because I’m a poor mistreated dev. This is *how* I maximise profits. I know my engineers, I know what they’re capable of, and I know that given the chance, they’ll make the best damn product they can, and mostly all I need to do is point in the right direction, and get out their way. And as a strategy, it’s worked pretty well for me so far.

      So yeah, the situation sucks. But at some point, a business will discover that actually, they can make a lot more money by *not* treating the workers like shit. At which point they’ll hit the market like a battering ram, and everyone will start paying attention.

      I’m gonna say ‘Projekt Red’ here. Now, I don’t know anything about working conditions there. But I know they’ve been *very* successful, and consistently successful. So… if it turns out that they treat their staff with respect *and* their next game is a success – that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

      • theliel says:

        Hasn’t happened yet, with massive numbers of samples. It’s safe to say it’s not going to happen under capitalism.

        CD reds not in the US. Basic European labor laws are miles above us protections. Apples to steak comparison there.

      • shde2e says:

        Even Projekt Red has a number of employees complaining about mismanagement, low wages, crunch, and a very divisive work environment.

        I can’t really tell if those issues affect a lot of people, or if it’s just a couple of miserable or disgruntled developers, but I would be careful to assume too much about a studio’s work environment.

        Still, you would expect most company headmen to have figured this out by now. I guess most of these people just suck at adapting to a creative/technical hybrid industry, or let their ego’s and shareholders get in the way of sensible and humane policies.

      • patstew says:

        I largely agree with what you’re saying, especially about 1 skilled and motivated dev being worth more than a large team of mediocre stressed devs.
        However, I think the gaming industry is a little different in that large studios with lots of low paid workers and a high churn rate can put out a bug ridden technical monstrosity, slap a ‘Star Wars’, or ‘Popular Franchise 8:Cash In’ label on it (or, less cynically, market a brilliant game concept) and still make a mint. That strategy doesn’t really work in comparable industries like mine, or I presume yours, where your products have to compete on technical merit.

    • April March says:

      I feel the same way. Would like to see this happening, doubt it will. I used to think that the way the video game industry treated its workers was a bizarre anomaly. Then I got a girlfriend who works as a systems analyst, and I discovered that… well, that the anomaly extends all of tech. (My girlfriend’s switched to a different company that doesn’t do crunch – or at least hasn’t, so far.) The videogame industry hasn’t embraced unions for many of the same reasons you correctly say the tech industry at large hasn’t, either; there’s no reason to predict that it will change anytime soon, and globalisation is a point against it, since (in theory) if devs in a country unionise a company can just switch to another country. Of course, if that was the case there would be no devs in Europe at all.

      Anyway, my point is, I also hope this takes on. Fair work is good work.

    • waltC says:

      As long as the SCOTUS comes forward later this year and allows the workers who don’t want union representation to opt out of the union dues and fees, I have no problems with unions. It’s forcing unions and union dues on people who don’t want them that I find very objectionable. Also, the idea that Unions can organize and campaign to win the support of workers, but that companies *should not be allowed to campaign for non-union shops* is very objectionable.

      In the US for instance, in all of the US-located Toyota and Honda factories, the unions get voted down regularly by the workers. And the unions have had lawyers crawling all over the companies who do that trying to find dishonest or unethical behavior and they can’t because it doesn’t exist. So long as unions support the rights of workers to resist unions if they choose, I find nothing objectionable about unions. Let the workers decide. Here’s a short article explaining it:

      link to automotive.com

      One of the more interesting factoids here is that it’s hard to impossible for the UAW to unionize factories and plants whose pay scales & benefits *exceed* the Unionized automotive plants…;) They are paid more money, and get better benefits than the union-organized plants–and they pay *no union dues* at the same time. Easy to see why the Unions cannot convince the autoworkers to sign on.

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    Fourvel says:

    What a great article. No, unions aren’t perfect. But as a proud member of Local 52, the film and television union out in New York, I can tell you that they are much better than the alternative. Giving studios unchecked power is dangerous. Unions can give a voice to people workers who wouldn’t normally have one. They also prevent your peers from undercutting you because they happen to not have any kids to go home to when they agree to a 90 hour week, or because their parents can help pay rent when they agree to be paid next to nothing. Unions help everyone stand together for fair pay and sane hours.

    • Archonsod says:

      “They also prevent your peers from undercutting you because they happen to not have any kids to go home to when they agree to a 90 hour week”

      The problem for many in the games industry is that the peers undercutting them tend to live in countries where unions are illegal. Unions tend to be far less effective when the job isn’t dependent on the location.

    • H. Vetinari says:

      They also prevent your peers from undercutting you because they happen to not have any kids to go home to when they agree to a 90 hour week/…./ Unions help everyone stand together for fair pay and sane hours.

      so if someone is a workaholic and actually wants/likes to work 90h a week he shouldn’t be allowed to? how is that “standing together” if you’re preventing someone to work 90h a week?
      we’re not all the same – to me and to you 90h/week is insane, but I know people who actually live to work and tinker with their work stuff even in their free time. so why shouldn’t they be allowed to do so? how are these people undercutting anyone in any way? these are the people that eventually become CEOs and when someone is willing to put the hours in it, he’s deserved the title and the paycheck.
      granted, these kind of people are few in between, but you can’t paint with a broad brush and say everyone who works insane hours is doing it just to undercut coworkers.

      • Landiss says:

        It’s really cute that you think hard work is what decides that someone becomes a CEO.

        • H. Vetinari says:

          It’s really cute that you think hard work is what decides that someone becomes a CEO.

          it’s even cuter to think that you should stay at the same company even if they don’t appreciate you. A company that can afford to throw away workaholics will not do fine in comparison with a company where workaholics are appreciated. One has to have guts, however, to change workplace and seek new opportunities (even start a new company, with blackjack and hookers) and not be a pussy and just whine about it.

          • Kolbex says:

            Yep, you’re the only real manly man here. Real CEO material.

          • H. Vetinari says:

            @Kolbex:
            Yep, you’re the only real manly man here. Real CEO material.

            very eloquent indeed – do you plan on writing a scientific article based on such massive arguments?

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            Wow, get a load of this guy. Questions the quality of others’ arguments in the same breath as telling them to
            “not be a pussy and whine about it.”
            You know, maybe Kolbex is right. Given that many CEOs are sociopaths, you do sound like CEO-material.

        • Cederic says:

          All the C level executives I know do however work very hard, and make a lot of work/life balance sacrifices to reach and hold that role.

          That’s not the CEOs, that’s the people that don’t even work as hard as the CEO.

          • shde2e says:

            I’m sure most of the people around the top of the ladder do work quite hard. But that alone will never get you to the top.
            You also need a bunch of luck, know the right people to get promoted (and step in at a higher management level if possible), don’t be hated by someone above you who decides on the promotions, and so on.

            And a certain level of sociopathy to kick people down if it benefits you would also be quite useful.

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        Phasma Felis says:

        Name one person who enjoys spending 13 hours a day, seven days a week, in the office.

        You are arguing to withhold rights from tens of thousands of people for the sake of one imaginary workaholic.

        • H. Vetinari says:

          Name one person who enjoys spending 13 hours a day, seven days a week, in the office.

          I actually know three people like that (none of them are on RPS though). two of them went to create their own company, the third became tenured professor at 32.

          You are arguing to withhold rights from tens of thousands of people for the sake of one imaginary workaholic.

          no; I never said anything against unions or withholding rights (you should read before jumping to conclusions!). But it is bad to see everyone as an asshole who is just trying to undercut you. it’s not fair to withhold them the rights to work 13h a day if they want to.

        • RocSo says:

          You have no right to a job or a good wage.

          • DatonKallandor says:

            “You have no right to a job or a good wage.”
            That’s actually incorrect. I refer you to Article 23, 24 and 25 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights.

      • mitrovarr says:

        Either you make that guy work a normal schedule through a union or he’ll make you work a 90 hour week through competitive pressure. So, you should do it in your own self-interest.

        Also, that guy probably doesn’t actually want to live like that, or at least didn’t originally, he just does it because he feels like he has to or because he thinks it gets him ahead.

      • mlcarter815 says:

        Nobody writes good code working that much overtime. It’s not possible to maintain that much focus. Robert Martin writes about it in The Clean Coder.

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        Fourvel says:

        If someone is willing to work 90 hours a week, that takes away a job from someone equally qualified who isn’t willing to sacrifice their home life and their well being to their job. Then slowly that becomes the norm, and most people are expected to work that long. This deprives the industry of tallent that isn’t crazy, while making those who choose to put up with it for love of the job miserable. So no, it’s not worth making a couple people happy if it makes everyone else miserable.

        In addition to taking jobs away from others, it is not safe to commute home after working those long hours. That’s how people get in accidents. Sometimes the day goes long, I get it. Many of us work 70 hour weeks in my union. But for when that happens our union fought for paid cab rides home. We are also compensated well for our overtime, which helps cut down on the amount of overtime we are forced to do.

        • H. Vetinari says:

          If someone is willing to work 90 hours a week, that takes away a job from someone equally qualified who isn’t willing to sacrifice their home life and their well being to their job.

          What you consider ‘working harder’, I consider ‘sacrificing the safety and well being of themselves and others’.

          but he’s equally quallified AND is willing to put in the work hours; you’re not. there’s always a price to pay – you get less money but have na social life, he get’s more money but has no social life.
          and don’t even try to spred this on “the others” – his long hours have nothing to do with your social life, only his – if he want’s to give away his social life he should be allowed to; the same way you should be able to keep/have you social life.

          Then slowly that becomes the norm, and most people are expected to work that long. This deprives the industry of tallent that isn’t crazy, while making those who choose to put up with it for love of the job miserable. So no, it’s not worth making a couple people happy if it makes everyone else miserable.

          so you’re willing to make a few people miserable, to make the most happy – that’s the same logic that you’re opposing just from the other angle-> “screw them if they’re miserable, as long as we’re happy”; is it just about numbers then – it’s justified because “we’re” the bigger group?

          • Napalm Sushi says:

            That you read “home life” and see only “social life” speaks volumes.

        • RavenGlenn says:

          Why is it most of the people in here arguing for Unions are against the idea of the free-market and other people working harder than them?

          Could it be that it’s because Unions are a socialist idea where there is very little reason to work hard or prove that you are deserving of a raise or promotion?

          I mean, I’m all for getting some standards set in the industry via labor laws or something to that effect that will help employees in the sector to not be abused…but that shouldn’t come at the cost of telling the scrapping 20-something guy who wants to work around the clock to make big bucks and shoot up the corporate ladder that he can’t do it because it isn’t ‘fair’ to other people’s home-lives.

          People that become doctors spend far more time in college and wrack up huge debts to get to do what they do. And because of it they make a lot more money than your average graduate. That’s the payoff for giving away more of your free time. More of your social and home life.

          No other field should be any different there. The CEO of the company I work for started the company himself with a couple friends. He works more than any other person in that company. Should someone tell him to cut it out as it isn’t fair to the other employees who can’t be the CEO because they don’t want to work as hard? That’s a joke.

        • Minicow says:

          “If someone is willing to work 90 hours a week, that takes away a job from someone equally qualified who isn’t willing to sacrifice their home life and their well being to their job. “

          That is not how labor markets work. Do you also think immigrants take jobs away from natives?

          (Hint: they don’t)

          • Raiyne says:

            Immigrants don’t, but the dude from India/China willing to work at 20% of the wages of the price due to relative purchasing power will be certainly happy to take that job from you.

      • Shuck says:

        “so if someone is a workaholic and actually wants/likes to work 90h a week he shouldn’t be allowed to?”
        Absolutely. If nothing else, someone working for 90 hours is not doing their best work. Labor studies show that the more work you do, the more the work suffers after a certain point. Working 90 hours a week on a consistent basis means the the quality of their work is substantially worse than if they only worked 40 (and they get less done). This is something the game industry hasn’t learned (and is constantly surprised when, after extended crunch, they’re even more behind schedule). It may take unions for the game industry to actually learn proper labor management.

      • Czrly says:

        I’ve been on teams with those 90-hour-developers. In fifteen years of professional development, on the path from intern, through junior programmer, digressing to people-leader and finally settling in the lofty heights of technical architect, I have learned something about these types: I can effect more progress in a code-base with a french-press, two hours and twenty well-considered lines than they can in such a week.

        Why is this so?

        The answer is simple: I go in with a plan and it is informed by experience.

        Sadly, management tends to notice a 90-hour-work-week because hours are easy to measure. Output quality is hard to measure and experience is ephemeral and ineffable.

        The result is simple: they replace me, the grey-beard, the dead-wood, with someone fresh out of school and wonder why the Bad Stuff happens.

        Karma is a bitch, to be fair, but I am still on the endangered list and find myself at a dead-end. Obsolete, uncool, out of style.

        Hell yeah, I’d unionise. And, to the newbie, I give this advice: “Join now. You too will catch experience, some day. It’s highly contagious.”

        Solidarity.

    • Cederic says:

      You’ve basically just suggested that unions prevent people from working harder than you and getting rewarded for it.

      Now ponder why so many people hate unions. Better than someone older than you? Tough, union rules demand he gets paid more. More qualified than that other candidate? Tough, union rules say she gets first dibs on the promotion. Want to hire a cheap actor to do voice work? Tough, union rules mandate you hire a union actor and pay them over the odds.

      Unionisation done well may benefit workers but unionisation following the usual US approaches will merely lead to the non-US games industry getting a nice boost.

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        Fourvel says:

        What you consider ‘working harder’, I consider ‘sacrificing the safety and well being of themselves and others’.

        As for your examples, the only one that is true in my union is the requirement to employ union people. Yes, the company is not allowed to hire cheap non union labor, because that’s the whole point. The only way to fight for fair wages and safe hours is by sticking together.

        • Cederic says:

          So I can’t join your company without being forced to join your union? I don’t like your union because it has shitty policies like that one, so obviously I’m not going to join it.

          Thanks for excluding me from the workforce, for the crime of ‘being willing to work for fair pay’.

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            Fourvel says:

            That’s not how my union works. If it’s busy enough you can get work on union TV shows without being a member. You’ll get paid the same rate as everyone else in your position, and your hours will go toward qualifying for union health insurance, again, even though you’re not a member. But if it’s slow, positions need to be filled by union members first.

            So no, you would not be forced to join my union. I feel this system would work well for the gaming industry too, where people change jobs somewhat frequently, and a job generally only lasts as long as it takes to make the game, followed by periods of unemployment.

      • Kolbex says:

        “Now ponder why so many people hate unions.”

        Mostly because of bullshit propaganda like yours.

        • H. Vetinari says:

          Mostly because of bullshit propaganda like yours.

          ah; another well argumented post. my sir, you must be a scolar with such eloquence.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Amen. Workers individually can be easily pressured, but well represented get infinitely stronger. I’m part of SATSAID, a tv union here in argentina, and I owe them a seven hour shift, and yearly adjustments to my salary, to reflect inflation. I’d be fucked if I had to negotiate that on my own.

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    Aerothorn says:

    I know for a long time the IGDA has been accused of largely existing to prevent the formation of unions, so in a certain way it’s nice to see the mask drop and for them to argue it outright.

    • Czrly says:

      It is also good for *someone* to make those arguments. I am all-for sensible unionisation for developers in all segments but I’d much rather see unions formed in the face of critical debate than unions formed without opposition.

  5. Cosmo D says:

    I’m a member of Local 802, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Chapter in New York City. A part of the funding of my game The Norwood Suite came through royalty payments on cello performances I recorded for TV commercials which played on primetime TV. I don’t think I’d have had that money to help get Norwood over the line if at some point AFM hadn’t negotiated a deal with broadcasting agencies on recording musicians’ behalf.

    802 isn’t perfect, and AFM might not be as powerful as other arts-centric unions. Still, that support that comes from knowing an independent organization is watching out for its members’ financial best interests is real.

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      Graham Smith says:

      <3

    • MattM says:

      I’ve never really understood the argument for residuals as an important element of fair compensation and I googled it a few times. The principle argument seems to be that re-running a movie or TV show over and over will diminish the demand for further work done by the actor, but the opposite seems to be true. Reruns and re-releases seem to raise the profile of the actor and increase the consumer interest in a sequels or a new work including the actor.
      If compared to an equivalent* flat-fee is there any reason you prefer residuals? It’s just something I’ve be curious about.

      *Taking into account things like inflation, time preference**, and risk***.

      **Time preference being the concept that even accounting for inflation a dollar today is more valuable because it can be invested to grow or spent sooner.

      ***Risk being the concept that a dollar is more valuable than a dollar plus or minus 20 cents****.

      ****This whole comment is an excuse to do Terry Pratchett style footnotes.

      • April March says:

        Reruns and re-releases seem to raise the profile of the actor and increase the consumer interest in a sequels or a new work including the actor.

        If you’re a lead, sure. If you’re an extra who later became famous, sure. If your role is “Woman Holding Champagne Tray #3”? Or, as in the case in question, if you play violin for a short scene in the background of a large production? That’s not increasing your profile at all. Without residuals, that’s just the rights owner profiting off the work you did once, for as long as they hold the rights (which nowadays is over a century if I’m not mistaken).

        The idea that ‘exposure’ is a good enough replacement for payment is another can of worms I’m not qualified to open.

        • MattM says:

          Sure smaller parts might benefit less from exposure, but I’m not asking about X flat wage vs. X flat wage + residuals. Obviously the second is more beneficial for the performer. I’m asking why someone might or might not prefer a larger flat wage vs a smaller flat wage + residuals that have an expected value that matches the larger flat wage. It seems like residuals only make sense when the performers would be actually financially harmed by overuse of their performance. The residual system incentivises the owner of the work to try and maximize their profit per repeat performance. Flat fees for performance would incentivize the owner of the work to maximize their total profit which could increase the value of the performance such that they would lead to a greater overall compensation for the performer. Given the fact that flat fees are a more straightforward and transparent way to pay people and residuals require diligence on the part of the performer over many years to ensure that the company isn’t screwing around with their numbers, it seems like a performer’s best shot at maximum compensation is to drop residuals and negotiate for larger flat fees. It’s well known in Hollywood that you never take a percentage of the profits over a percentage of the gross because the complicated corporate structure of producing companies will ensure that there are no net profits for you to take a percentage from.
          I work in Engineering and my goal in negotiations is to secure the maximum upfront payment rather than a complicated long-term pay structure. I know that a company will continue to profit from my work after I leave and that’s OK with me since I figured that in when negotiating for my salary. Really if my work didn’t benefit my employer after I left I’d be a bit sad. Although I am principally interested in getting paid, I do take pride in the fact that my work is out there making its own little contribution to the world.

  6. SaintAn says:

    So how would this effect the games and gamers? Higher prices, lower quality, lower quantity, more DLC/microtransactions/loot boxes to improve corporate profits? More jobs being shipped overseas? I’ve seen a few articles promoting unionization, but haven’t seen any covering the consequences of unionization.

    Unionization is what protects police in the US allowing them to murder people and do all kinds of corrupt shit and never get fired, so I can’t say I’m a fan even if it improves the lives of some.

    • Foridin says:

      Well good news! A bad video game can’t kill people, so the risk/reward is totally different for them than police. And considering that, I think I’m gonna have to prioritize people being able to live decent lives over slight decreases in quality of an entertainment product.

    • Kolbex says:

      *event happens* but how does this affect Me, the Protagonist of Reality.

      • MattM says:

        Everything I’ve ever experienced has suggested that I’m the protagonist of this reality. I’m only like 90% sure that other people exist.

    • mike69 says:

      What you’re describing (unionisation of police in America) is an *extremely* specific usecase, one that can barely be applied to almost anything else. And isn’t actually a fault of unionisation, but how it’s applied to a class of people that should be under increased scrutiny, not special protection.

      It bares basically no relation to the subject at hand.

    • trooperwally says:

      What you describe with police unions protecting officers who have broken the law would be an example of corruption. The fact that a union is involved has little more to do with it than the fact that it involves police or the US. It’s quite possible to have unions without corruption and game developers don’t generally carry guns to work so the risks you describe aren’t really relevant.

      As for how unions affect you – maybe higher prices, hard to know. Maybe prices right now are too low and only as low as they are because consumers benefit from unfair pay and conditions of the game developers. (In the same way, though clearly different scale, that you can buy cheap clothes where you benefit from sweatshop conditions in another country). But maybe the bad conditions in the games industry have their own costs (eg experienced talent leaving the industry, lower productivity, inhibited innovation, etc). Maybe unions will cut those costs and game prices will fall. We don’t know.

      That’s not really the point of unions though. The point is that they try to get a fair deal for workers. If you currently benefit from an unfair deal for workers then be honest and tell us how you would feel about paying more if it meant people weren’t being exploited.

    • mitrovarr says:

      If I had to guess, I’d say that the time needed to make games would go up a lot (sane schedules take longer), but the quality would also go up (less burned out employees, less turnover). I don’t think there would be a ton of outsourcing, at least of skilled positions – you need people who know the tools and cultural barriers make art a little difficult to produce overseas.

      I don’t think corporations would squeeze games harder for money – the limit there isn’t how much they need to make, it’s what their audience will let them get away with, and unions wouldn’t affect that. Budgets might not stretch as far so games might be a little less technically ambitious, but I’m fine with that as it seems to often be counterproductive to game quality anyway.

    • Shuck says:

      “So how would this effect the games and gamers?”
      I’ll tell you the biggest change: game developers are less likely to get burned out after developing a couple games and leave the industry. Which means more experienced developers working on games. Which means fewer games that are re-inventing the wheel because half (or more) of the team has never done anything like this before. Which means better, more inventive games. Games that have fewer bugs because the developers weren’t walking dead from abusive crunch. Games that are more likely to come out on schedule.

    • MattM says:

      I’d prefer to pay less for games, but I’m not terrified that I might have to pay more.

      • Dogshevik says:

        Leaving essentials and directly comparable products aside (two brands of class A bananas) you can assume that companies charge for a product what the customer is ready to pay. (or capable to) In an established market that number is pretty much known.
        The incentive to lower costs is not that you can lower prices but to increase your profit margin within the given framework.

        It wouldn´t make sense for games companies either. Customers are ready to pay up to 60$ for an AAA title. They won´t buy a WW2 themed shooter if they want a StarWars themed one or if they dislike your mechanics even if yours is 3$ cheaper.

        I also refer to the negligible costs of replicating your digital product.

    • behrooz says:

      Bringing police into it is a strawman. Firefighters are even more highly unionized, and the major social impact of firefighter unions has been regulatory change to building and life-safety codes because safe, fire-resistant construction reduces the hazard to people in emergencies, and firefighter unions have the unity and political power to advocate for policies that avoid preventable deaths. This has been such a runaway success in America and Europe that the vast majority of building-related tragedies happen in cases where existing regulations are violated, grandfathered, or rolled back by the influence of groups that prioritize profits over lives.

      Power imbalances make for bad policy, and in an unregulated capitalist system the default relations of capital and labor are unbalanced drastically in favor of capital. Capital hates unions, because unions increase the share of profits going to labor and do pesky things like advocate for safe working conditions and protest mistreatment of workers.

      I think that the perspective most anti-union views start from is the privilege of having skills that are in high demand, often college-educated, young, and with strong career prospects, or working for an employer that does treat employees well and fairly.

      Sure, you may not need a union now– but you may in the future, whether it comes from discrimination, illness, a changing skillset, economic conditions, or changing/pressured management that starts cutting corners or trying to screw workers.

      Historically, unions are one of the core reasons why working generally isn’t the dangerous nightmare that it used to be.

      For example, here’s a CDC document showing the improvements in workplace safety over the 20th century. Go look at where unions originated from before you opine that we’d be better off without them.

  7. mike69 says:

    I guess I missed the memo when RPS became an American website? Get a style guide guys. An editor would be handy too.

    It’s ‘unionise’.

    • CdrJameson says:

      Also, ‘Where companies intimidate their employers, unions can intimidate back’ should presumably be ’employees’.

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        Fixed!

        I decided to use the American spelling in the social media bits and some slipped into the article as a result. My bad, for the inconsistency.

        Also: we have an international audience, the majority of that audience is in America, and I couldn’t care less whether we use American or British English.

        • WombatDeath says:

          Similar typo here, I think:

          “And they can make demands on behalf of employers who may not understand labour laws sufficiently to fight for their own rights without support.”

        • Cederic says:

          I’m confused. Are you Adam Smith the named author of the article or Graham Smith who apparently wrote the typos?

          Not that it matters, you’re a professional writer that doesn’t even take care to know which language you’re writing in. Hopefully your colleagues wont mock you too much for that.

          • jomurph86 says:

            link to sparkonit.com

            …I’ll just leave this here…

          • Nootrac says:

            American and British English are the same language. The word you’re looking for is “dialect.”

            If we’re being that pedantic about words.

          • April March says:

            I think it’s ‘variant’, actually.

            Uh a trophy saying ‘MOST PEDANTIC WOW’ just materialized in my room

        • Grayman says:

          Please compromise on Canadian English. Extra u’s but z’s instead of s’s.

        • MajorLag says:

          As an American, I prefer the British English. Reading it makes me feel more sophisticated.

    • daneel says:

      ‘-ize’ is not an Americanism.

      link to blog.oxforddictionaries.com

  8. Gothnak says:

    I’ve worked in the industry since 1995 as a programmer, scripter, designer and now as a creative director. Probably around half of those 23 years have involved crunch and unpaid overtime, the worst being around 9 continual months in one go.

    Good to see this happening, even if I have just started my own company with friends and have personally employed my first ever dev last month. However, considering our philosophy is a new style of development with Devs working from home and managing their own time, hopefully we’ll be on the same side as the unions. ;)

    • Luaan says:

      Don’t get too optimistic – where I’m from, unions have been heavily pushing towards *prohibiting* work-from-home for a few years now (on the grounds of it being “exploitative”, and making employment “cheaper”). Unions never represent *you* – they represent some idealised, average guy (and that’s already assuming a fair and nice union, not just another attempt at creating an unfair monopoly/monopsony). This is not a blanket statement, but don’t forget that their only power is through restricting the options both employers and employees have. Even if you get a vote on the process, it’s your vote against everyone else’s :)

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Unions never represent *you*”

        Sweetie, no organization with more than one member can represent just one person. By definition. It’s like you’re telling someone not to buy a specific bicycle because it won’t teleport them home instantly.

        So, you’re left with a union’s imperfect representation of your needs arising from a process of trying their damnedest, or your employer’s imperfect representation of your needs, which comes from a place of simply not giving a fuck beyond the bare minimum required to keep you alive, at your post, and generating profit.

        In my experience the people who would choose the latter either think they’ll be the one doing the exploiting in a few years (or already are), or they’ve led a privileged enough existence to believe that anyone ever accomplishes anything on their own, without the labour of others.

  9. Stargazer86 says:

    Oh. A topic about unions. This always creates rational and thoughtful debate.

  10. ianni says:

    One aspect of a possible game developers union I haven’t seen discussed is whether or not it would be compulsory, i.e. you have to be a member to work in the industry. I grew up wanting to work in video games and learned to program for that express purpose, but never pulled the trigger and joined up because of the horror stories. I am all for members of the industry banding together to force change in hours and job security along with many other things. But I am less inclined to support forced union membership. I hope the eventual union attracts members by proving its worth, instead of forced membership.

  11. AngoraFish says:

    The biggest impediment to game developers currently unionising is Jen Maclean.

    This being the same Jen Maclean with an EBA from London Business School and Columbia Business School, the same Jen Maclean who was CEO of 38 Studios until only a few weeks before 379 full-time employees there were laid off, the same Jen Maclean whose near entire career has been in senior management roles, the same Jen Maclean whose perception of unions is based on 30 year old public service union stereotypes acquired from her father (a postal clerk).

  12. Herkimer says:

    I’m a lawyer for the State of California, and a proud member of a public sector union. It’s a Friday evening, and I’m tired, and I honestly don’t have the energy to say anything beyond this:

    Solidarity to the developers.

  13. satan says:

    Kinda sad that globally, media has lurched so far to the right that even an article about the benefits of being in a union has to spend half the article apologising for unions.

  14. H. Vetinari says:

    Kinda sad that globally, media has lurched so far to the right

    to the right? in what parallel Universe are you living in? the only thing we hear about is multiculturalism, “evil” capitalism and “good” socialism/comunism; how race and sex matter (which is kind of ironic, that the left ist racist and sexist), how everyone is oppressed….
    that is exactly why Trump won, and why we in EU are seeing the rise of the far right IRL not on media – because the people are fed up with having leftist propaganda shoved down their throats.

    • ansionnach says:

      Yes, the media is quite clearly more often left-leaning. Ideology seems more important, even if it’s in cloud cuckoo land. Unions could benefit workers but it’s worth acknowledging the dangers. If there’s forced membership and too many one size fits all rules that push performance further back in the list of things that matter they may be ultimately damaging. With a bad, overly powerful implementation, unions will definitely benefit people – those who are more equal than others. Places that claim to be “meritocracies” are usually talking bullshit but it’s important to continue to recognise merit and not merely change who’s in the cool club. Unfortunately, one example given in the article (about bathrooms) suggests they should meddle about with ideological nonsense. The left and right ideologues delude themselves when they start winning elections. What they don’t seem to realise is that they’re only in until their nonsense irks the unaligned.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      You have to be pretty far to the right to believe the mainstream media are left-wing, especially in the US and UK.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Reality has a left wing bias.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Show me the mainstream media that doesn’t have utterly and completely unquestioning blind support for capitalism. Global media has absolutely swung hard right, because anything but “taxes bad”, “capitalism good”, “might makes right” isn’t even give so much as a word in edgewise.

      “that is exactly why Trump won, and why we in EU are seeing the rise of the far right IRL not on media – because the people are fed up with having leftist propaganda shoved down their throats.”

      That’s fairly offtopic, but this kind of rididculousness can’t just go unadressed. That statement is ludicrous. Trump and the right wingers in Europe are on the rise because LYING has stopped being punished. Facts are considered fluid and “everyone’s opinion is equally valid” even when it clearly isn’t. The reason the right is rising is because the sane part of civilization was too nice.

      This is actually a phenomenon called the Paradox of Tolerance. Essentially, by being so tolerant that intolerance is given an equal voice, the intolerant will win out because they themselves are not tolerant of dissenting opinion.

      • ansionnach says:

        It’s true that tolerance is something you can have too much of. When it comes to lies, all politicians are doing it to various degrees, even the more moderate ones. We’d have to go into specifics to actually compare the merits of who said what and to what degree they’re lying. Jeremy Corbyn is a good example of an accomplished liar whose tales helped achieve gains in recent elections. Often you might read a headline about someone being racist but when you look at what they’ve actually said the story has been made up. There are fashionable prejudices about that those who claim to be against prejudice often spread (fight prejudice with… prejudice). As someone from a disadvantaged area it annoys me when I hear people say that those from the same area who commit crimes have diminished responsibility for their actions. If you’re serious about treating people fairly and without prejudice the last piece in the puzzle is to subject them to the same criticism you would anybody else.

        The media isn’t all biased the same way but you can clearly see the general bias from how Trump and his fellow moronic North American leader are treated. If Trump were to help an old lady across the street (not that he would) the story would be that he was trying to feel her up. Trudeau on the other hand has made it a requirement that students declare support for abortion in order to get funding from the Canada Summer Jobs programme but he’s tripping over international media praise the whole time. His government wants to force people to think a certain way. As far as I’m concerned, Trudeau is a dangerous ideologue who’s immume to reason. Trump has no ideology other than loving himself. Both of them will be out when their electorates are sick to the teeth of them.

        H. Vetinari is right about recent elections. People choose change when they’re deeply unhappy with what they already have. Personally, I’m sick of hearing how evil Trump is and how great Trudeau is… and it’s not that they can’t be evil or great. In these and many other cases the media discredit themselves by deliberately misrepresenting the truth to a ridiculous degree. Perhaps the reason Trump is immune to criticism is that wolf was cried too many times from the start. The stories attacking Melania for wearing high heels before boarding the plane to Texas really were pathetic. It’s like a child constantly telling on its sibling for the tiniest thing.

        Reality doesn’t have any bias. The more ridiculously the ideologues choose to ignore it, the more apparent it becomes. Hopefully sooner or later it’ll get you!

      • AngoraFish says:

        It is true that lying has stopped being punished but this is only indirectly related to “all opinions being equally valid”. The main problem here is that the media are completely wedded to the fallacy of false equivalence.

        This is partially structural (conflict is more entertaining than consensus) and partially self-protective (nobody wants to be accused of bias by not covering opposing opinions, particularly where a two sentence throw-away ‘fixes’ that problem).

        When someone mentions climate change, the media always has to include a line that “not all scientists agree”. When there is coverage of lying or corruption, every article has to end with “their opponents have also been accused of lying or corruption” (insert example, no matter how far in the distant past or how tenuously argued, here).

        The practical effect of all this false equivalence is that voters draw the understandable conclusion that “they’re all just as bad as each other” and therefore have no incentive to change their own voting behaviour. Lying and corrupt politicians end up going unpunished at the ballot box.

        • ansionnach says:

          It would be interesting if basic fact checking was done on what public figures say. Things aren’t always simple facts, but where they are, it’s worth doing this. I’ve noticed a few papers starting something like this since Trump became president of the US but they’re often a sham. It’s easy to validate your perspective by saying the opposition is lying. Trouble is people easily ignore the lies of their own side. Taking sides is a mistake quite a lot of the time.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Please point me in the direction of these corporate media outlets singing the praises of communism

      • ansionnach says:

        “The left” isn’t confined to just communism. Here are some reasonably uncritical pieces on that, all the same. First one even throws in a terrorist for good measure.
        link to independent.ie

        link to theguardian.com

        There are many leftist articles of faith that the media don’t really challenge. Laws requiring gender quotas are literally institutionalised discrimination. If discrimination based on a prejudice is wrong then how is more of it a logical solution? If it’s wrong to be against the formation of unions on mere ideological grounds then how is it okay to suggest that unions should be a tool to further your own ideology (gender-neutral toilets)? I agree that pure ideology as the only reason for something is stupid. You need a reason for something. If it’s an article of faith then you can’t argue against it and those who even try to discuss it are easily treated as heretics. The more the world changes, the more it stays the same…

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Well there’s the trouble, too much time with right wing nuttery has completely rotted through your reading comprehension and critical thinking. For future reference the first article is composed almost entirely of direct quotes from Irish politicians eulogizing the recently deceased Castro without a hint of editorial comment. And the second is a description of the recent Chineese party congress whose overarching point was that predictions about the communist party (ie that it would collapse or open up) have all proved wrong and we should probably rethink how we analyse the Chinese is broadly critical of the failure of western media and commentators. However if you read

          “The Chinese Communist party congress displayed all the qualities beloved by Leninist institutions over the ages, of deep secrecy mixed with stern pageantry, leveraged in the service of reinforcing their leaders’ inviolate right to rule.” as a laudatory introduction you’re way off.

          • ansionnach says:

            You’re wrong. I don’t go about reading right-wing nuttery. You’re jumping to conclusions and going for the facile personal attack (so have a few pejoratives on the house, you’ve earned my disdain).

            My main point is that the media don’t have to promote communism to have a left-wing bias.

            Looking at the links, the first newspaper has a strong record of being anti-IRA and isn’t really left wing either. Because the paper can choose to editorialise and even select what it prints, allowing free comment without response is very much a choice. They wouldn’t give just anyone a platform to say whatever comes into their head. In this case it is the president, unfortunately. Him and Gerry Adams.

            The second link isn’t completely one-sided, but again, it does sing the praises of communism (so it literally is an example of what was requested). I’ve been to China a couple of times and if they start exporting their model the world will be the worse for it.

            Even though communism isn’t served up by most media outlets, it’s not uncommon for certain aspects of it and terrorism to be romanticised and fetishised. This happens quite a bit with the Sinn Féin/IRA, which is a pseudo-Marxist organisation. It talks socialism with a mix of nationalism. Since it’s got its own army it more closely resembles the national socialists and is flying a false flag. One of its stated aims is to overthrow the Irish government as it considers itself the legitimate government. The name the IRA uses for itself, Óglaigh na hÉireann, even means the army of Ireland (same as the official army’s Irish Name). Digressing here but you won’t have to do too much looking to find fetishisation of communism and terrorism. Che Guevara may well have shot a lot of people wearing his face on a t-shirt. This kind of thing isn’t as hugely central to the media as political correctness is but given how extreme it is, it’s concerning that praise for the likes of Gerry Adams isn’t unheard of. It’s especially important for younger people to know just what communism and the likes of the IRA terror campaign were like. It’s absolutely incredible that people would consider Corbyn a suitable leader for the UK given his IRA connections. Someone already commented about the danger of treating the truth and a lie with equal respect. I think it’s not unwise to be wary of all politicians but it’s prudent to be even more wary of those who are apologists for deliberate murder (while banging on about human rights with a straight face). I’ve always voted for everyone except the Sinn Féin (the elecoral system here allows for it – you lot voted against adopting a similar system for some reason). No matter how disillusioned I get these people pose a threat to the country thats is orders of magnitude worse than any amount of greed and corruption. It’s silly how easily something like “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” can wrong-foot people. A freedom fighter who targets civilians isn’t the kind to be respected. It’s a line that can’t be crossed. Evidently it’s a successful tactic, at least to some degree, but I’ll always say if you want to fight a war go shoot some soldiers.

    • Raiyne says:

      Found the alt-right reader.

  15. Smaug says:

    I have heard far too many horror stories, programmers generally are expected to “dream in code” and sacrifice everything for their work. But in the project-centric video game industry things are an entire new level of terrible. I fully support these efforts.

    I live in Europe and I am always surprised to see the American hatred of fair working conditions to their own detriment.

  16. cpt_freakout says:

    This sounds great. To the person who said that this would impact games and gamers negatively, really, that’s your concern? It’s people we’re talking about here, and people (and people’s well-being) should always be a priority over things. Especially things you don’t really need in order to live or survive or whatever. Might be more understandable if the question was “hey, I might not be able to buy my daily bread tomorrow because of this”, but “hey, I might not be able to buy the next Hitman” is a ridiculous reason to be against this.

  17. TheBetterStory says:

    Good. I’ve heard miserable things about the work-life balance developers have at AAA companies, it would be great for them to have a union to give them a little leverage.

  18. Fetyukovic says:

    I have never understood the presumption of luxuries as rights. Nobody owes you a job. The terms of your employment are to be decided upon prior to your hiring. If at any time you become dissatisfied with the terms of your employment, you can negotiate for what you want, or you can cease employment. The employer does not owe you happiness. The employer hired you to provide a service, your value is determined by the service you provide. If someone can provide the same service you offer for less money or in greater quantities, the company will naturally be inclined to favor that person. If many are unhappy with an employer, and quit over unhappiness, and the positions are difficult to fill, that will incentivize the employer to raise the wage or offer other benefits to make the position sufficiently attractive to fill the position(s). The only things an employer owes you are the agreed upon terms discussed prior to employment and compliance with federal law. The employer doesn’t owe you satisfaction, pizza, good feelings, happiness, love, a future, nothing! The only reason a successful business offers luxuries to its employees is that it is seen as being in the best interest of the employer. Feeling “burnt out” is a personal problem, not a legal matter. If you’re bored and unsatisfied,and your employer offers you no deviations, then suck it up, or find something else to do. This is the real world. A union is a third party that uses your money to supposedly look after employees interests, but the employees interests are secondary to Union interests. Will a publisher be able to keep it’s doors open and continue being profitable with a parasitic body dictating and lobbying with the employer about employee’s feelings of gender tolerance, or whatever perceived offense is the order of the day? Good luck. The bottom line doesn’t care about your feelings or what you think you’re entitled to.

    • ansionnach says:

      I’d agree with you largely. Perhaps it’s a little peripheral to your points but I certainly don’t like the idea of unpaid internships and am wary of potential abuse of schemes where people get the placement and social welfare. I suppose these can be sorted out through labour laws and if enough people are unhappy with them they can lobby their elected legislators to make changes. Spot on that a union’s and the workers’ interests aren’t necessarily the same thing. Each individual will have different requirements. I’m dead against the toilet changes, especially if they mean I’ve got to get used to queuing. Try to agree with everyone who tries to guilt you into feeling you’re bad for not agreeing with them and you’ll fail very quickly… and be just as “bad” a person. Compassion and agreement aren’t coupled so that they can’t live apart from each other. Those who reach too easily for the personal attack need to learn that it’s a red line and that anyone who treats them the same as they would anyone else would react with hostility. The best you can do for someone is to judge them by the content of their character. As an individual.

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