US Sega staff vote to form union; DOL wants more employee-owned businesses

In this week's HR news round-up: Sega staff win unionization vote; black people accounted for 90% of layoffs in the three months to June; and staff are seeking second jobs.

Article main image
Jul 14, 2023

US Sega employees win vote to form union

Workers at Sega of America – the US arm of the Japanese company behind Sonic the Hedgehoghave voted to form a union, with 91 votes ‘for’ and just 26 votes against. The vote sees the creation of the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS), and will represent more than 200 employees at Sega of America’s Irvine, California office. By including those who work in a number of different departments, including those in marketing, games-as-a-service, localization, product development, and quality assurance, the unionization win represents the first video game industry union at a major company that spans multiple departments. Said Sega of America translator Ángel Gómez: “We are overjoyed to celebrate our union election win as members of AEGIS-CWA [Communications Workers of America].” Gómez added: “We all care deeply about our work at SEGA. Now, through our union, we’ll be able to protect the parts of our jobs we love, and strengthen the benefits, pay, and job stability available to all workers. Together we can build an even better SEGA. We hope our victory today is an inspiration to other workers across the gaming industry. Together, we can raise standards for all workers across the industry.”

DOL launches plan for more employee-owned businesses

The Department of Labor (DOL) has this week launched a new initiative to create more employee-owned organizations. The new plan will see the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) create a new ‘Division of Employee Ownership’ in its Office of Outreach, Education, and Assistance – one that will provide more education, outreach, and training to inform employees and employers about the possibilities and benefits of worker ownership and business ownership succession planning. It will also provide technical assistance to firms exploring the feasibility of transferring full or partial ownership to employees, and will develop a clearing-house of techniques employers can use. Said assistant secretary for employee benefits security, Lisa Gomez: “By launching this initiative, the Employee Benefits Security Administration is working to help balance the distribution of power in America’s workplaces and empower the workers who fuel their employers’ ability to be successful day in, day out.” Research suggests converting to worker and employee ownership boosts profits by as much as 14%. Currently, around 17 million people (some12% of the US workforce), is employed in organizations with some element of staff ownership.

Black workers account for 90% of recent rise in unemployment

Depressing news this week reveals that the number of unemployed African Americans has increased by 267,000 since April 2023, meaning this group accounted for close to 90% of the 300,000 increase in overall joblessness during the three months to June. The data – from the Department of Labor – shows that black unemployment rose to 6% last month – the highest for nearly a year – and it was nearly double the unemployment rate of white workers (3.1%), which has actually decreased in recent months. “Black workers are often among the first to be fired as the economy begins to weaken,” concluded a report into the figures. Commenting on the data, William Rodgers, director of the St. Louis Fed’s Institute of Economic Equity said: “If conditions continue to weaken, or even accelerate, the gains won by black workers and other vulnerable groups could diminish quickly.”

Newsweek names its 1,000 Greatest Workplaces list for 2023

America’s Greatest Workplaces’ (2023), has been revealed by Newsweek. The annual poll, in association with Plant-A, is an annual compilation of the 1,000 best US companies to work for with more than 1,000 staff. Ranking points are based on performance across eight categories (company image, corporate culture, working environment, work-life balance, training and career progression, compensation & benefits, sustainability awareness and proactive management of the diverse workforce). All companies ranked were also screened against the press coverage they had received during the past 24 months, around keywords such as discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Organizations on the list this year include Hilton Grand Vacations (the only vacation company, with four stars out of five). It’s executive vice president, chief human resources officer & public affairs, Pablo Brizi, said: “Cultivating a thriving company culture and providing industry-leading benefits is at the core of our ‘Putting People First’ mission’.” Others included Duke University and Anderson Corporation, which was noted for empowerment of women, promotion of veterans, development of entry-level employees and support for LGBTQ associates.

Cost of living forcing many to seek second summer jobs

Increases in the cost of living are forcing many Americans to consider taking an additional summer job to bolster their income. Typically, the summer months are boosted by teen employment, but increasing numbers of older people are looking to muscle-in on employment opportunities in the summer, according to new research by Indeed Flex. Its poll found nearly half (47%) of respondents said they are interested in pursuing retail positions this summer, followed by restaurant/bar jobs (34%), hospitality (29%), event staff jobs (28%), administrative positions (27%) and factory work (21%). Of these, two-thirds (67%) want extra income for personal expenses; one-third plan to use their extra income to finance a summer trip (35%), while 23% will put their income toward school tuition. The survey finds adults are in need of extra finances to support their families, while teenagers are looking for summer jobs to accumulate cash to satisfy their shopping needs or recreational hobbies.

More than a quarter of jobs at risk from AI revolution – OECD

New data from The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that as much as 27% of OECD member states’ jobs rely on skills that could be easily automated due to the artificial intelligence revolution. Jobs at highest risk were defined as those using more than 25 of the 100 skills and abilities that AI experts consider can be easily automated. The OECD, which has 38 member countries, including the UK, Japan, Germany, the US, Australia and Canada, said even jobs in finance, medicine and legal activities – those which rely on accumulated experience to reach decisions – may suddenly find themselves at risk of automation from AI. It claims rapid developments in technology like ChatGPT can now produce outputs that are “indistinguishable from that of humans,” and so OECD economies may now be “at a tipping point.” Said OECD secretary general, Mathias Cormann: How AI will ultimately impact workers in the workplace and whether the benefits will outweigh the risks, will depend on the policy actions we take.”

40% of workers now work remotely at least one day a week

New research from the Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University finds two-fifths of workers now work from home at least one day a week, while 10% now work fully remote. Interestingly, analysts found that educational attainment was the single-largest predictor of whether someone can work from home. Employees with a graduate degree spent 37% of their workdays working from home, while those with a high school degree or less did so for 18% of their workdays. Employees in their 30s reported the highest levels of working from home, while those in their 20s and those in their 50s reported working onsite more often. Women spent roughly 2% more time at home than men. Researchers found that productivity amongst fully remote workers was 10-20% less than that of their in-office peers, leading researchers to predict that working from home is likely to decrease in the next few years. But, they also found employees valued the ability to work from home two-to-three days a week as equivalent to an 8% pay increase.