Activision-Blizzard’s unionbusting reputation precedes it, I’m afraid, as the company has been playing a very public whackamole game with its burgeoning workers’ movements over the last few years, so you might find it hard to grant it the benefit of the doubt in this story. Yesterday, Communications Workers of America (CWA) accused Activision-Blizzard of breaking multiple labor laws when it fired QA workers over their reaction to Activision-Blizzard forcing staff back into the office after an extended work-from-home period as the pandemic continues.
“Two QA testers expressed their outrage using strong language,” CWA says “In response, management set up disciplinary meetings where both workers were fired.” The union characterizes that pushback as protest, which it argues has traditionally (read: pre-2020) been protected under labor law.
Activision-Blizzard, however, maintains that it “[does not] allow employees to use profane or abusive language against each other” and is “disappointed the CWA advocates this type of behavior.” While enforcing standards of conduct to keep the peace within a team is a reasonable goal, this is a company that refused to punish its CEO for threatening to have his own assistant murdered. That, plus the company’s documented unionbusting efforts and its recent corporate declarations that QA should just quit if they’re not happy being treated like low-skilled transient roles, suggests that ABK’s sudden policing of pottymouths is as pretextual as it appears.
In any case, Activision and CEO Bobby Kotick can keep on being disappointed as CWA filed charges against them anyway. “For far too long, Activision has gotten away with treating its employees, especially QA testers, like disposable work horses. Firing two employees for joining with their co-workers to express concern around hasty return to office policies is retaliation, point blank,” a CWA rep said.