With the help of a major union, Activision Blizzard employees have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about the company, claiming that the game development and publishing giant intimidated, monitored and interrogated workers to prevent them from discussing labor conditions.
Employees working under the banner of “A Better ABK” (referring to Activision Blizzard King) and CWA claim that in the past six months, Activision Blizzard has:
- “Repeatedly threatened employees to engage in illegal acts”
- “Tell employees that they cannot communicate or discuss ongoing wage, working hours and working conditions surveys with employees”
- “Maintain an overly broad social media policy”
- “Implement a social media policy for employees participating in protected collaborative activities”
- “Employees who have been threatened or disciplinary action due to protected collaborative activities”
- “Surveillance of employees engaged in protected collaborative activities, and interrogate employees about protected collaborative activities.”
“Protected collaborative activities” refers to employees discussing ways to improve the workplace or organizing labor groups, including collective bargaining groups. CWA also admitted that Activision Blizzard hired WilmerHale, a law firm known for its anti-union activities with Amazon and other companies.
We cooperated with CODE-CWA and filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Committee: https://t.co/meGNFYcWJYSeptember 14, 2021
A Better ABK tweeted: “If the NLRB ruling is beneficial to us, the ruling will have retrospective effect. We will set a precedent that no worker in the United States will be deterred by talking about mandatory arbitration.”
Compulsory arbitration refers to a common employment contract clause that requires certain disputes between employees and the company to be resolved privately. Ending it is one of the requirements of A Better ABK.
An anonymous Activision Blizzard employee told vice They suspect that senior managers are trying to get rid of outspoken employees who are suspected of discriminating against the company.
CWA is a national trade union with 1,200 special local trade unions, focusing on telecommunications, IT, aviation, news media and broadcast media. It represents approximately 700,000 members from the public and private sectors. The complaint against Activision Blizzard is part of the union’s digital employee movement, which it describes as an initiative to “support the organization of workers in the technology and gaming industries.”
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to PC Gamer’s request for comment.
In July, Activision Blizzard became the subject of a major lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit accused the company of allowing a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace. This led to the departure of an employee and the establishment of A Better ABK.
In the next few months, several well-known leaders of the Blizzard development team left the company, including Diablo 4 director Louis Barriga, long-term designer Jesse McCray, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan Le Marchi. Blizzard president J Allen Brack resigned in early August.
Recently, Blizzard deleted in-game references from developers involved in the lawsuit, including former World of Warcraft creative director Alex Afraciabi, who was fired for misconduct in 2020. Blizzard also announced that it will rename the Overwatch character McCree.