Update: The Union was Recognized! Noble Knight Games employees Unionize.

That's always the excuse used to justify not imposing safeguards to prevent the exploitation of workers. It's ultimately a fear-mongering tactic.
I've thought a lot about that--I used to be a lot more pro-union until recently, and the experience of unionization in the 1930s did give the USA one of its few periods of income compression, but the heavy stimuli of the past few years seem to have caused inflation of a sort I haven't seen in a while, and my own readings of Latin American history seem to show that worker power leads to increased inflation (though lack of it leads to very unpleasant levels of inequality). I'm not really sure what the best choice is. Ultimately it's up to everyone to decide whether they want to keep patronizing Noble Knight.
Not just European countries. We tax corporate profit too. Eisenhower had some very strong things to say about it back in the 1950s. Our rate is higher than many European countries, but we allow loopholes out the wazoo.
Yep, I've read that. I wouldn't oppose getting rid of some of those loopholes, but I don't have the hundred million on hand to buy enough congressmen to do that.
 

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MGibster

Legend
Almost every single thing they likely want though, will decrease profits the owner(s) are taking… thus risking the viability of the business for the owner, thus risking closure - and no job. Ummm, win?
I work in HR, in practical terms this means I represent management not employees. If an employer can’t afford to pay a living wage or provide a tolerable working environment or conditions, they don’t deserve to be in business.

I am not entirely unsympathetic to the needs of management, but the histrionic cries that they’ll go out of business are a bit much to swallow.
 

I work in HR, in practical terms this means I represent management not employees. If an employer can’t afford to pay a living wage or provide a tolerable working environment or conditions, they don’t deserve to be in business.

I am not entirely unsympathetic to the needs of management, but the histrionic cries that they’ll go out of business are a bit much to swallow.
If we're talking Exxon or Amazon or Starbucks, yeah.

Some of these games companies, I wonder...
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
NKG owner, probably idk:

Food $200
Data $150
Rent $800
Candles $3,600
Utility Labor $150
someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying
 

I work in HR, in practical terms this means I represent management not employees. If an employer can’t afford to pay a living wage or provide a tolerable working environment or conditions, they don’t deserve to be in business.

Or they have too many employees and need to let a few go, so that they can pay the remaining ones better and give better benefits. But the crappy route many companies try to go is just cut everyone's hours, so that no one even qualifies for benefits. Or even worse, they do both and just put more into their own pockets. And it all contributes to the Big Lie that "no one wants to work!"
 

Types of theft:

Wage-Theft-vs-Other-Theft-1024x730.jpg
 

Here's a scene about the play out across the US:

manager: "hey I know you took time off for christmas but we are really slammed right now and I need you to come in"
employee: "no, I'm spending time with my family, I'll be back in two days"
manager: "well clearly you don't care about this job. Maybe I'll have to find someone who is more reliable"
 


A second Noble Knight Games employee, who asked to speak anonymously, continued: “The tabletop industry is exciting, and it’s fun. I think employers count on that when they offer us wages that aren’t in line with the responsibilities that we’re being asked to have. We love our company. We love the industry. That’s why we’re [here]. We just think that our expertise and our talent deserves better wages, better benefits, and a better working environment.”

Workers at Noble Knight Games, an online board and tabletop game retailer located in Wisconsin, are the latest to file for a union vote with the NLRB. In addition to better pay and environment, workers told Polygon that sick days aren’t a thing at Noble Knight. “It’d be nice to get some of those,” Zebertavage said. “Our PTO is already pretty scant.”
 


Here's a scene about the play out across the US:

manager: "hey I know you took time off for christmas but we are really slammed right now and I need you to come in"
employee: "no, I'm spending time with my family, I'll be back in two days"
manager: "well clearly you don't care about this job. Maybe I'll have to find someone who is more reliable"

Read the r/antiwork subReddit and you will see a lot of this has been going on for years. There are people posting about managers contacting them while on vacation or maternity leave or at a funeral, or sick with Covid, and so on, not even just asking them to come in to work, but rather ordering them to come in.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Read the r/antiwork subReddit and you will see a lot of this has been going on for years. There are people posting about managers contacting them while on vacation or maternity leave or at a funeral, or sick with Covid, and so on, not even just asking them to come in to work, but rather ordering them to come in.

When I worked in the security industry, this was a real problem. Specifically, when I worked for the security and enforcement division of a US military contractor, it got to where I was working 60-70 hours a week (in violation of federal labor laws) because my employer would threaten me with termination if I didn't come in.
 

Lazvon

Explorer
I am clearly not expressing myself well. My apologies. Certainly not trying to be antagonistic, just try to express a view.

I am simply trying to state that if there is good profits, absolutely should pay/benefit the employees competitively.

If there isn’t enough profit (enough being whatever the owner(s) want), then the union risks the owner(s) closing up shop, and have no jobs instead.

I am not for or against unionizing for NKG. Just curious if the owner(s) are making tons of profit or a little to none… if little to none AND conditions are so bad they need a union, then it isn’t a viable business… close the doors and the 70 people can go try and find other jobs.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
If there isn’t enough profit (enough being whatever the owner(s) want), then the union risks the owner(s) closing up shop, and have no jobs instead.
And what we're saying is that if the company cannot afford to pay the workers well and give them basic benefits, the company has failed. The existence of the company should not be dependent on exploiting the workers.
 

Lazvon

Explorer
And what we're saying is that if the company cannot afford to pay the workers well and give them basic benefits, the company has failed. The existence of the company should not be dependent on exploiting the workers.
Surprised to quote myself… but yes, as I said…

“…if little to none [profit] AND conditions are so bad they need a union, then it isn’t a viable business… close the doors…”
 

MemBirdman

Wielder of Mysteries
Sooooo… I need more data to figure how supportive I am of the unionization…

Is there evidence of extreme profit margins? Does the owner(s) drive new $120k+ cars, changing pretty often? Massive $2m+ house? Have crazy mahogany office setup?
Hi all. I’m in Customer Service at Noble Knight, and we appreciate the conversation, both on our behalf and questioning the viability and necessity of our organizing. I’ve scanned through the thread, and while there’s a lot covered, I figured that this line of questions would be the best place to start.

I can’t get into specifics about profit margin, but elsewhere, it was mentioned that the average FLGS’s margin is 5-8%. That percentage is significantly less than the profit margin at NK. I mean...yeah, SIGNIFICANTLY less. Think of us more like Gamstop than an FLGS, where selling used games is virtually nothing but profit for a store. If they buy a PS3 game for $5 and sell it for $15, none of that $10 goes to the publisher or to Sony, but they keep it all. Gamstop is a big corporate entity that’s starting to buckle under its own weight, but NK is entirely out of one location. If you think of the store in those terms, you’ll start understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing.

As far as the other questions:
  • Shiny vehicles, changing often: yes
  • Massive homes: Yes, kind of. One of the ownership group spends the majority of time at one of his houses in Florida. Full disclosure, I don’t know how big the homes are, but once you get to the phrase “one of his houses,” I think that gets the point across.
  • Crazy mahogany office setup: Honestly, I laughed when I first read that because I thought “How did he predict that?” Yes, crazy setup with a big stereo system, personal bathroom and a six-foot Harley Quinn (from the Arkham video game series) figure. And that’s the office of that owner in Florida, so the space is used less than a month out of the year.

This is completely anecdotal, but I’ll share my experience: I started the day after Gen Con in 2019. At that time, there were 30 people employed with the company, and the company had just moved into our current location the month before, condensing five warehouses into one one big facility. Now, we are around 75 employees and ownership is already actively preparing to expand our warehouse, even adding a second floor, because we’re just plain running out of room. In preparing to organize, I’ve found that pay has been generally static throughout. One of my colleagues checked the average cost of living needs for the area the store is at and found that it’s a little more than $22/hour. Of the 70-ish of us that would be employees, taking out those in management and ownership, no one makes that. Right now, I only see one person making more than $20/hr. Everyone else makes less than $20/hr, and most make less than $15/hr. If I can give one example of our fight, it was given yesterday after our open enrollment insurance meetings: “Had the insurance meeting. I was on our top tier insurance paying $75/paycheck out of pocket. The new premiums have me paying $103/paycheck out of pocket at the LOWEST TIER.”

I am not pro-Union, and my eyes are wide open in this process. I’ve told my colleagues and the CEA this, and they welcome that concern. I’m sharing this so that y’all understand where we’re coming from. We don’t want to feed the trolls, but have wanted to discuss true needs with management and ownership. We’ve been shut down too many times individually, and have seen the store thrive too much the last couple years, so we’ve had to do something to try to help ourselves. It’s been met with hard resistance, but we’re on the path with a supermajority of the employees on board with the union, and we’re looking forward to the next steps together.
 

darjr

I crit!
Hi all. I’m in Customer Service at Noble Knight, and we appreciate the conversation, both on our behalf and questioning the viability and necessity of our organizing. I’ve scanned through the thread, and while there’s a lot covered, I figured that this line of questions would be the best place to start.

I can’t get into specifics about profit margin, but elsewhere, it was mentioned that the average FLGS’s margin is 5-8%. That percentage is significantly less than the profit margin at NK. I mean...yeah, SIGNIFICANTLY less. Think of us more like Gamstop than an FLGS, where selling used games is virtually nothing but profit for a store. If they buy a PS3 game for $5 and sell it for $15, none of that $10 goes to the publisher or to Sony, but they keep it all. Gamstop is a big corporate entity that’s starting to buckle under its own weight, but NK is entirely out of one location. If you think of the store in those terms, you’ll start understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing.

As far as the other questions:
  • Shiny vehicles, changing often: yes
  • Massive homes: Yes, kind of. One of the ownership group spends the majority of time at one of his houses in Florida. Full disclosure, I don’t know how big the homes are, but once you get to the phrase “one of his houses,” I think that gets the point across.
  • Crazy mahogany office setup: Honestly, I laughed when I first read that because I thought “How did he predict that?” Yes, crazy setup with a big stereo system, personal bathroom and a six-foot Harley Quinn (from the Arkham video game series) figure. And that’s the office of that owner in Florida, so the space is used less than a month out of the year.

This is completely anecdotal, but I’ll share my experience: I started the day after Gen Con in 2019. At that time, there were 30 people employed with the company, and the company had just moved into our current location the month before, condensing five warehouses into one one big facility. Now, we are around 75 employees and ownership is already actively preparing to expand our warehouse, even adding a second floor, because we’re just plain running out of room. In preparing to organize, I’ve found that pay has been generally static throughout. One of my colleagues checked the average cost of living needs for the area the store is at and found that it’s a little more than $22/hour. Of the 70-ish of us that would be employees, taking out those in management and ownership, no one makes that. Right now, I only see one person making more than $20/hr. Everyone else makes less than $20/hr, and most make less than $15/hr. If I can give one example of our fight, it was given yesterday after our open enrollment insurance meetings: “Had the insurance meeting. I was on our top tier insurance paying $75/paycheck out of pocket. The new premiums have me paying $103/paycheck out of pocket at the LOWEST TIER.”

I am not pro-Union, and my eyes are wide open in this process. I’ve told my colleagues and the CEA this, and they welcome that concern. I’m sharing this so that y’all understand where we’re coming from. We don’t want to feed the trolls, but have wanted to discuss true needs with management and ownership. We’ve been shut down too many times individually, and have seen the store thrive too much the last couple years, so we’ve had to do something to try to help ourselves. It’s been met with hard resistance, but we’re on the path with a supermajority of the employees on board with the union, and we’re looking forward to the next steps together.
Well dang. Thank you for sharing that and I hope the Union goes through.
 

Lazvon

Explorer
Excellent information. Clearly need to unionize and properly provide for the workers.

I am a senior executive in technology industry. In the late 80s and through the 90s I was consulting and consulted at several of smaller privately owned companies where the owners were clearly maximizing their profits at incredible levels, and yes, the fancy office, cars, and home(s) were key indicators.

Anyway, yes, should provide better for the employees. What I would offer… 75 employees… retail/warehouse/CSR… starting $15/hour up to $30/hour with annual raises based on productivity and tenure. On warehouse/CSR side, if your productivity drops and is the lowest, your next raise might be nothing… and 3-6months later if you don’t come up to average, probably time to part ways - have 4-weeks base + 1-week per year severance. The highest productivity maybe 7%, average ~2.5% raise and for weird years like this one, probably half of the full year CPI %. The next year if no deflation, would give the other half.

3-weeks/year PTO, recommend you don’t use it all up front in case you are sick in the fall. Can carryover 1-week. Years 3-7, 4-weeks. Years 8+, 5-weeks.

Warehouse closed between Xmas and New Years. Can work in retail if any of those folks want off that week. Inventory first week of July for warehouse - no recieving/shipping.

Healthcare fully paid (no copays) for anyone making less than $75k/year.

5-days immediate paid bereavement spouse/partner/child. 3-days parent/brother/sister/grandkid. 2-days other family/close friend (twice a year).

4-weeks paid childbirth.

41-55 hours 1.5x hourly rate; 56+ hours 2x.

2x15m breaks or 3x10m, 1x30m break per scheduled 8.5 hour shift. Another 15m if 10-12 hours.

75 folks, 20% low end of pay (average $17/hour), 50% middle ($22/hour) 30% top ($27/hour)…

Actually going to have to hire another 10-people with all them at PTO or pay a lot more in OT.

Probably going to have stop buying houses and cars quite so often… but should be doable it sounds like… definitely going to cut into the profits though.

Hope you guys get the union through and fair treatment deserved!
 
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Lazvon

Explorer
Oh, I don’t know how to measure retail side productivity. At game stores I have frequented over the last 35-years… some of the employees that kept me coming back never “sold” me anything, I do not think the register person was giving them credit as I am sure they didn’t see them talking to me about games and such… or even coming back days later to buy when they aren’t around after thinking about it or reading more about it… as such, I don’t know to fairly compensate retail… hmmm. Comment cards/surveys I guess.
 

One of my colleagues checked the average cost of living needs for the area the store is at and found that it’s a little more than $22/hour. Of the 70-ish of us that would be employees, taking out those in management and ownership, no one makes that. Right now, I only see one person making more than $20/hr. Everyone else makes less than $20/hr, and most make less than $15/hr. If I can give one example of our fight, it was given yesterday after our open enrollment insurance meetings: “Had the insurance meeting. I was on our top tier insurance paying $75/paycheck out of pocket. The new premiums have me paying $103/paycheck out of pocket at the LOWEST TIER.”

One question and one agreement.

First on the cost of living. Was that based on what it would cost for a single person living by themselves to afford a decent place, pay bills, good food, etc, rather than on the shared cost of having a roommate or two, or being part of a working couple, where expenses are shared? I am always suspicious of all cost-of-living estimates because of this, since living solo in the US is much rarer than splitting costs with other people.

Second on the insurance. That huge shift in cost and quality is enough by itself to do some collective bargaining, or going further to forming a union. I hope at the minimum you all can correct that.
 

MemBirdman

Wielder of Mysteries
One question and one agreement.

First on the cost of living. Was that based on what it would cost for a single person living by themselves to afford a decent place, pay bills, good food, etc, rather than on the shared cost of having a roommate or two, or being part of a working couple, where expenses are shared? I am always suspicious of all cost-of-living estimates because of this, since living solo in the US is much rarer than splitting costs with other people.

Second on the insurance. That huge shift in cost and quality is enough by itself to do some collective bargaining, or going further to forming a union. I hope at the minimum you all can correct that.
Totally fair question. I don’t know the answer, and I also understand the skepticism because I don’t.
 

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