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Unionising board game store staff say “coming weeks will be difficult”

Employees at Wisconsin board game store Noble Knight Games seek to join a union to achieve better working conditions, and are planning their formal vote

A logo showing three meeples, with the union slogan "we roll together"

Employees at Wisconsin board game store Noble Knight Games are headed to a union vote, aiming to secure “livable wages, transparency of pay and raise structure”, and “healthcare options that can be afforded by wages received.” On top of this, they’re seeking sick leave (they say there’s currently none) and more paid time off than the current five days provided.

“Current policies and pay structures contribute to a high turnover rate and undue stress on our team and their families,” a representative of the unionising employees tells Wargamer, through the Noble Knight Games United Twitter account.

“This was especially true during the pandemic, with no sick leave options other than to use what little paid time off they may have had saved up. With more competitive pay, benefits, and job security, our team will be happier, healthier, more productive, and more likely to stick with the company loyally for years as a career.

“It all boils down to that. We want to make Noble Knight Games a place you can have a career, not just a job for a while.”

A letter from game store Noble Knight Games leadership formally declining to recognise a union.

Noble Knight Games employees aim to form a union with the Communication Workers of America, and filed their intent to unionise with the NLRB on October 31.

However, NKGU says “the company ownership has informed the CWA in writing that they choose not to recognize the union voluntarily.” That means the next step in the process is a formal vote. NKGU says it anticipates “the coming weeks will be difficult”, but claims 70% of the board game store’s 70-strong staff have signed support cards in favour of the movement.

These efforts were in part inspired by the growing number of union movements within the wider industry, such as at Card Kingdom and Mox Boarding House.

“Employees have talked about this for years, so I think it is safe to say the recent unionisation efforts within the gaming industry helped spark renewed interest and confidence in the idea to band together with our teammates and colleagues.” NKGU says.

In fact, one of the reasons the group chose the Communication Workers of America was for their “experience of working with other gaming companies, like Paizo and Raven Software.” NKGU says it did “a lot of shopping around” and is confident with its choice.

The workers are very clear that they don’t want people to boycott the Noble Knight Games board game store. “We want to keep working there, and we want the company to continue growing and being successful, so that we can continue doing what we love at our favourite place, our friendly local game store.”

Instead, they ask for visible support from the community, which “will make our team feel stronger and safer, and signal to ownership that they should consider working with us instead of against the team’s will and wellbeing.”

Wargamer reached out to Noble Knight Games leadership for comment, but received no response.