Nintendo denies anti-unionization accusations amid complaints from former staff

Nintendo has denied anti-union accusations laid out in a National Labor Relations Board complaint filed by a former Nintendo of America employee. 

As Axios (opens in new tab) first reported, the complaint, filed in Washington on April 15, names Nintendo of America and staffing agency Aston Carter. It alleges coercive actions and statements including but not limited to surveillance and threats, as well as concerted activities such as retaliation, discharge, and disciplinary action. 

A newly released case form (opens in new tab) further details the basis of the charge: “The Employer discharged an employee(s) because the employee(s) joined or supported a labor organization and in order to discourage union activities and/or membership,” it alleges. 

It also alleges discharge in response to “protected concerted activities by, inter alia, discussing wages and/or other terms and conditions of employment and in order to discourage employees from engaging in protected concerted activities.” Additionally, it specifies interference, restraint, and coercion through surveillance “of employees’ union activities.”

In a statement to Polygon (opens in new tab), Nintendo of America claimed that this complaint was filed by “a contractor who was previously terminated for the disclosure of confidential information and for no other reason.” 

“Nintendo is not aware of any attempts to unionize or related activity and intends to cooperate with the investigation conducted by the NLRB,” the statement continues. Nintendo said it intends to cooperate with the NLRB’s investigation and that it is “fully committed to providing a welcoming and supportive work environment for all our employees and contractors.” 

Mario wearing a white top hat in Super Mario Odyssey

(Image credit: Nintendo)

This complaint prompted similar accounts from other former Nintendo employees. One Twitter user by the name of Boyks (opens in new tab) described their time at Nintendo of America as “one of the most stressful and awful experiences of my life.” 

“They have an awful practice of ‘dangling the carrot’ of full-time employees to [contractors] who they almost universally never hire on just to keep exploiting them and keep them quiet,” they said. “I spoke up to try and better things for coworkers. Main reason I was let go.” 

When reached by GamesRadar, Boyks defended their claims but stressed that they don’t want to “distract from the original complaint.” 

“I hope the folks there are able to work towards a workplace they can feel respected and comfortable being at,” they said in a message. 

Boyks’ account received several replies from other users claiming to be former Nintendo employees. 

“I worked in [Platform Technology Development] for ~5 years before quitting towards the tail end of the Wii U era,” said (opens in new tab) one user. “It’s all true. Shoutouts to mandatory two months unpaid time off every year, presumably to maintain contractor status and avoid giving us any benefits whatsoever.”

“Gotta love the forced two months off where I basically had to hustle with a temp job during that time,” reads (opens in new tab) another reply. “My days went from five to two a week after a super busy holiday and the release of Super Mario Maker. They controlled so much, including our looks and speech patterns.”

The NLRB is also litigating a union election at Raven Software under Activision Blizzard. In a statement addressing union efforts at the company it will soon acquire, Microsoft said it won’t “stand in the way” of an Activision Blizzard union. 

Workers at Raven went on strike for nearly eight weeks to protest the abrupt firing of 12 QA testers. 

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