US labor board accuses Activision Blizzard of illegally threatening employees

Prosecutors for the National Labor Relations Board have determined that Activision Blizzard illegally threatened staff, an allegation the company says is “false.”

Bloomberg (opens in new tab) reports that NLRB prosecutors claim Activision Blizzard has “illegally threatened staff and enforced a social media policy that conflicts with workers’ rights.” Unless the company agrees to a settlement, the regional director of the NLRB will issue a formal complaint.

“These allegations are false,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson tells Bloomberg. “Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates employees’ NLRA rights.”

The Communications Workers of America, the same group which is supporting unionizing workers at Activision subsidiary Raven Software, brought these allegations to the NLRB in September. That was before Activision released a dozen contracted QA workers from the studio, a move that led to months of protests from employees and the formation of the Game Workers Alliance.

“In order to rebuild trust at Activision, Bobby Kotick needs to take the high road and start listening to workers instead of doing everything possible – including breaking the law – to silence them,” CWA organizing director Tom Smith says in response to today’s finding.

The NLRB found against Activision Blizzard earlier this year, determining that a small group of QA workers at Raven Software was eligible to vote for unionization at the company. Those ballots have been submitted over the past few weeks and will be counted today, May 23.

If the vote passes, the GWA will be the first recognized union at a major game studio in North America. Vodeo Games, an indie studio with remote workers spread across the US and Canada, became the first unionized company in the North American game industry last year (opens in new tab). Major studios in other regions, including Sweden-based publisher Paradox Interactive (opens in new tab), have recognized employee unions for some time.

We have a big breakdown of the lawsuits and investigations Activision Blizzard has faced over the past few years.

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