Activision Blizzard Employees File NLRB Suit Accusing Company of Union Busting, Intimidation

Employees of Activision Blizzard under the banner of the ABK Workers Alliance, with the support of the Communication Workers of America guild (CWA), have filed an unfair labor practice suit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging the company has engaged in union-busting and intimidation of workers.

In a press release sent out by the groups today, ABK Workers and CWA accuse Activision Blizzard of "using coercive tactics to attempt to prevent its employees from exercising their rights to stand together and demand a more equitable, sustainable, and diverse workplace."

"It is their right as workers to organize for a work environment free from abuse, discrimination and sexual harassments, and this right is protected by federal labor law," it continues.

The complaint itself alleges that Activision-Blizzard has threatened employees, told them they cannot discuss wages, hours, or working conditions, "maintained an overly broad social media policy" and then both engaged in surveillance and enforced its policy against employees who "engaged in protected concerted activity."

One anonymous employee reportedly told Vice that some of the more outspoken employees at the company had recently been told their work performance was not up to standards, despite it being good previously. Another said the company had recently been "hemorrhaging people" in the wake of the harassment lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard.

Said lawsuit was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing earlier this year, alleging that Activision-Blizzard fostered a "frat boy" culture in which female employees were subjected to sexual harassments, unequal pay, and further unfair, discriminatory, and harassing treatment over the years.

The subsequent weeks saw an industry-wide outcry against the company's culture, including numerous current and former employees sharing their stories of mistreatment at the company on social media and with the press, and an employee walkout. The ABK Workers Alliance was formed during this time in response to the suit, with the purpose of demanding better from the company for its workers.

Activision Blizzard has since made some moves to address the issues, including the termination of a number of employees accused of bad behavior, the removal of in-game references to multiple people named in the suit and other accusations, the replacement of former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack with co-leaders Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal, and just today the hiring of former Disney VP Julie Hodges as its new chief people officer.

However, ABK Workers say the company has not meaningfully addressed its published demands, which include new recruiting, hiring, interviewing, and promotion policies, publication of representative data on employee compensation, a third party audit of the company's HR, reporting processes, and executive staff, and an end to forced arbitration.

To the latter point, ABK Workers tweeted today that "if the NLRB rules in our favor, the ruling will be retroactive and we will set a precedent that no worker in the US can be intimidated out of talking about forced arbitration."

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.


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