turo.exe · @Turinturo_

29th Jul 2021 from TwitLonger

RL unionization

I'd like to pre-empt this statement by saying, I am doing great under Rogue. They have been nothing short of exceptional in communicating with me personally and don't place any kind of obligations on me that I'm not ok with. I have no gripes with them at all. These are just my thoughts on the topic of unionization that I've had some light discussion with other players on, and was recently brought up again.

There are many in the community who are rightfully skeptical at the idea of the unionization of pro RL because of just how young and generally immature the scene is. But if anything, that simply means the need for a players union is even greater. There needs to be some kind of real leadership and structure, especially for new and younger players to fall into. I know personally of all too many examples of a player being taken advantage of with predatory contracts or even outright illegal ones. I personally am still missing a good amount of money from a previous organization, and I know other players in the same boat, who never pursue that money because it would mean suing said company, which requires money and time (Its really not my place to speak of specifics, but there are far far worse things that I know of happening). That disincentive is further amplified when taking into account the fact that many players are still in high school, and generally don't know anything about contracts or how to protect themselves from bad situations. This isn't even taking into account the completely legal but predatory way many orgs handle contracts with new talent, like isolating them from teammates during contract negotiating, staggering the contract timing of players, or adding in any number of new stipulations and obligations during routine contract renewals.

However, one of the biggest obstacles to RL unionization is one of the same reasons it is needed. Unfortunately, the only few players who have the level of respect with other players that is needed to set up something like a union, are already in the position of having absolutely no need of any kind of organized bargaining power, because their personal brands are enough for them.

Now, I'd like to address some of the obvious points people will push on. A players union would represent a large number of young/immature teenagers. It should be obvious, but that doesn't mean it has to be led by those same people. There are several experienced and mature players, ex players, or managerial staff in the scene who I would love to see step up to the plate and get something like this going. I just don't think many people are educated on what unions are, how they work, or how to get one going. Another point is, if a union is formed in the scene, won't that drive away organization interest? There is a degree of validity to this concern, as orgs are obviously looking to make good and safe investments, and any more power granted to players might scare them away. But I see no reason that a players union couldn't have a perfectly reasonable level of cooperation with orgs and Psyonix. There are examples of player unions in other scenes working fine, and though it will certainly shake things up in the scene for a little while, the benefits in player protection will far outweigh any short term losses.

(This part is quite rambly so feel free to skip to end of paragraph) Another reason in favor of a players union is one that has been brought up quite a lot recently, and that is communication between players and Psyonix. The state of communication between Psyonix, orgs, and players is quite simply put abysmal. But despite what many reddit posts would have you believe, the problem doesn't originate, at least from my knowledge, with Psyonix. I can remember a time even just a couple years ago that the communication was far more clear, but it has only deteriorated since then. From what I know, that is mostly due to, as stated before, the immaturity of players leaking things unnecessarily. This then led to a compounded effect as the company basically felt any information they would give players would be leaked, meaning they gave players less and less, and the trusted players (or orgs sometimes) would then leak more and more information because it would be information needed by other players. But that is mostly speculation as of course most of what I know on it is rumor. Back to the main point, communication between players, organizations, and psyonix sucks right now, and I believe any sort of organized talent association would be integral to fixing that. Having a direct line of communication with players that could be handled in a professional way would help immensely with rebuilding trust between players and psyonix, especially if they officially recognized and legitimized the player union.

There are a number of talent agencies that can help with these problems, and certainly have in representing players (who, I'd like to emphasize, are often between the ages of 15-17) during contract negotiations as well as sponsorship opportunities, but their reach is just too short, and they often can't help, or have no incentive to help, those who need it the most. I'd also like to clarify on the topic of contracts, most all of the top orgs in the scene are completely fine. There are industry standards for these things, and well established and respected orgs almost always stay within them.

Now, these are just my initial thoughts on the topic of unionization. I'm certain there are numerous disagreements to be had, but as I saw It brought up earlier today, I'd really like to get the ball actually rolling on actually improving the scene. The status quo is obviously working fine for most of the better RLCS teams, but there are still countless examples of young players getting screwed over by simply not having the support structure necessary to effectively advocate for themselves.

TLDR: there are several sensible reforms and protections to be made for players, that would be most easily achieved through a player's union. Either way just talking through it helps.

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