SEGA’s American headquarters in Irvine, California, is experiencing a unionization effort by 144 workers spanning across departments. The workers are forming a union known as AEGIS (Allied Employees Guild Improving SEGA) and are advocating for improved benefits such as healthcare, retirement, and remote work options, increased staffing to combat overwork and burnout, clearer opportunities for advancement, and higher base pay.
SEGA, known for franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog and Total War, has not yet voluntarily recognized the union. The eligible workers can conduct an election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) if SEGA does not recognize the union, and workers expect the vote to pass since a supermajority has already joined the union, and there are only about 170 eligible workers.
Unlike other gaming industry unions, SEGA’s union spans across departments, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) organized it. Em Geiger, a temp editor in localization who has been at SEGA since 2018, says that the unionization effort has been in the works for a long time and is not a direct response to union efforts at other gaming companies. Still, successful union efforts at other studios have been affirming.
The gaming industry is notorious for its “crunch” culture, working extreme hours to meet deadlines to release games, which has spurred the sudden movement of unionization at studios. The union’s efforts are in line with other gaming companies like Microsoft-owned ZeniMax and Activision Blizzard, which both unionized last year. Microsoft has a legally binding labor neutrality agreement, while Activision Blizzard has been found by the NLRB to have unlawfully retaliated against unionizing workers.
Temp QA tester Winry Ramsey, who has been in this role since August, is excited about the public support the union already has but is unsure how SEGA will respond. SEGA has not yet responded to TechCrunch’s request for comment.