Monday, February 21, 2005

Overtime class-action suit against Electronic Arts

There are some clouds gathering over the sky of the Electronic Arts. Mark Schwanhausser at Mercury News wrote in an article about another worker of EA, who had filed class-action lawsuit against his employer, seeking overtime compensation.

This opens interesting opportunities for game industry workers. It is not only one person against big company anymore. Now there is the possibility that workers start to get encouraged and raise up to demand better working conditions. It would mean more salary or at least shorter working days. This is basic union mathematics – cause needs people and as the threshold has been reached there is now way of turning the tide. It remains to be seen if other game industry workers join the “movement”.

So how many angry game industry workers does it take to pull off a successful class-action suit against the employer? I wish, I could answer that, but maybe you can comment on the article and suggest something.

Anyhow, what we are seeing now is those out of reach of stock options workers, who are going for class-action suit. These people have no chance of benefiting from excellent financial results of their employers. They are also easy to replace and they have to pull those long hours just to keep their jobs. The cost of their “rebellion” could be their job, but that already is a threat that exists.

From European point of view, this could even the competition between old and new continents. European game companies have been moving their operations away from Europe with increasing speed and one major contributing factor has been higher personnel costs in Europe.

What happens if American personnel costs rise to the level of those in Europe? I bet that the movement towards Asia will speed up. I wonder if UbiSoft made a clever move with their decision to bolster their studios in Montreal. Like with other things, time will tell...
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