Activision Blizzard faces new unfair labour practice charges

Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard is facing new unfair labour practice charges from the The Communications Workers of America union (CWA).

The CWA have filed the charges on behalf of the ABK Workers Alliance, which comes after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found earlier this month that Activision Blizzard illegally retaliated against unionising workers at Raven Software by withholding raises.

After employees at Blizzard Albany won the right to form a union, a company-wide Slack message from Activision Blizzard’s chief communications officer Lulu Cheng Meservey was shared, asking for “direct dialogue between company and employees”.

In a new tweet announcing the charges, CWA subdivision Code-CWA wrote: “Last week, Meservey sent a company-wide Slack message disparaging the union, making threats to withhold raises and benefit improvements from workers who joined the union, and giving workers an impression that their union affiliation and/or support was under surveillance.

In a further tweet, the CWA’s Sara Steffens added: “To be clear, a one way channel where management force feeds workers information does not create dialogue between workers & higher ups. The only vehicle that can give workers a legally-protected seat at the table & a voice on the job is a union.”

In the case earlier this month, the labour board found that Activision Blizzard withheld raises from quality assurance (QA) testers at Raven Software, which it attributed to their union activities.

Following these findings, Activision Blizzard and Raven Software QA testers will continue negotiations around a collective bargaining agreement. If the two parties cannot agree on terms, the NLRB could file a complaint. Additionally, if Activision Blizzard refuses to settle, the case could be seen by a federal judge – although this is an unlikely scenario.

In response, Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George issued the following statement: “Due to legal obligations under the [National Labor Relations Act] requiring employers not to grant wage increases while an election was pending, we could not institute new pay initiatives at Raven because they would be brand new kinds of compensation changes, which had not been planned beforehand. This rule that employers should not grant these kinds of wage increases has been the law for many years.”

The union at Raven Software dates back to January of this year, having formed after a number of its quality assurance team were laid off without warning. While Xbox head Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft will not oppose the union following its high-profile acquisition of the company, Activision Blizzard has been accused of anti-union activities in the past.

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