Labor board moves forward on union’s labor law charges against Activision-Blizzard

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We admit that it’s hard to keep track of all of the malfeasance that the Communications Workers of America has been calling out against Activision-Blizzard (on top of all of the other behaviors the company has been found doing), but this story relates to an August 2022 complaint from the CWA that accused ActiBlizz of spying on employees during planned protests and threatening to shut off inter-company Slack channels; as a refresher, the CWA had filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over these matters.

The NLRB has since concluded the investigation of those complaints and has confirmed it will move forward with two of the three charges in question, focusing on the company’s illegal surveillance and a broken labor law when it threatened to turn off chat channels; the dismissed charge relates to a threatened shutdown of a meeting, which CWA had argued violated Section 7 laws.

Blizzard claimed in a statement that chat in meetings was shut down because of “toxic workplace behavior,” while a message from Activision-Blizzard chief administrative officer Brian Bulatao in a company Slack channel claims that chat was “particularly disruptive after some employees used the chat to disparage the work of the Diablo Immortal team and others.” He also said the company “[suggested] a future change to Blizzard’s Slack policy to limit harassing content in company-wide channels.”

If you’re thinking that the fact that ActiBlizz was suddenly caring about naughty words while being presided over by a CEO who threatened to have his assistant murdered smacks of selective care, well, the CWA agrees; it hit back at the studio by calling out what it believes is the real reason for Slack channel shutdown.

“This egregious behavior […] is yet another example of the company using its platforms and tools to coerce and intimidate workers exercising their protected right to organize,” reads the statement. “These actions, coupled with Activision-Blizzard’s illegal firing of workers speaking out about their working conditions and several other unlawful actions, shows a clear pattern to disregard the law in an attempt to silence workers.”

source: IGN
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2023, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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