Workers with Sega of America in Irvine have voted to unionize and have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election as they lobby for higher wages, improved benefits and increased staffing.
If approved, the union — comprised of 144 employees across the video game and entertainment company’s various departments — will be called Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS) and would be aligned with the Communications Workers of America (AEGIS-CWA) as they seek improved workplace conditions.
In a statement, the newly created union noted that “nearly a third” of Sega’s long-time workers are still not working full-time and lack paid time off, proper training and bereavement leave.
The Sega employees are calling for:
Higher base pay with raises tied to the cost of living and inflation
Improved healthcare benefits
Increased opportunities for advancement
Balanced workloads and scheduling
Clearly defined responsibilities for all positions
Adequate staffing to avoid “patterns of overwork”
“We have built bridges with fellow workers from across our company in an effort to understand our shared issues, and those that are unique to each department,” the fledgling union said.
In a letter sent to employees on Wednesday, April 26, Sega of America President and Chief Operating Officer Ian Curran said Sega is investigating and considering the options available to the company.
“Some of you may support unionization and some not,” Curran said. “That is your legal right. No SOA employee will be treated any differently whether they support or do not support unionization.”
Curran touted the company’s culture and said Sega has a “strong commitment to working together as a team.”
Two workers who spoke to The Verge said they haven’t experienced any anti-union sentiments from Sega management.
Sega is known among gamers for popular offerings such as “Streets of Rage 2,” “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” “Phantasy Star IV” and “Castlevania: Bloodlines,” among others.
In an interview posted on CultureSlate.com, AEGIS-CWA member Mohammad Saman said a unionized workforce would give the Irvine staff a say in decisions that shape employee working conditions, while also ensuring job security.
“It’s been so exciting to see that through organizing, we can make this work a sustainable long-term career,” he said. “We’re excited to protect what already makes Sega great, and help build an even stronger company, together.”
CWA has participated in similar unionizing efforts at Blizzard Albany, a division of Irvine-based video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment, and ZeniMax, another video game maker based in Rockville, Maryland.
Many workers in the video game industry have pushed for unionization in recent years, including Raven Software quality assurance employees. And Microsoft signed a neutrality agreement with CWA, saying it will take a neutral approach to any employee unionization efforts at Activision Blizzard studios, should deals go through.