Activision Blizzard, publisher of the Call of Duty franchise, has been accused by a U.S. federal agency of spying and intimidating workers amidst unionization efforts at the company. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the video game publisher has been illegally surveilling employees and threatening to shut down internal chat channels to keep the staff from organizing.
As reported by Reuters(Opens in a new tab), the Communication Workers of America union has accused Activision Blizzard of illegal labor practices as the union has sought to help workers at the company organize. A spokesperson with the NLRB told Reuters that a settlement has been issued with Activision and unless the company agrees the board will issue a complaint against the company in California and three other states.
A spokesperson with Activision told Reuters that the claims from the CWA were false and that the company was committed to fighting toxic workplace culture.
Unionization efforts at the publisher have been slowly picking up, with workers staging a walkout last year(Opens in a new tab) to protest “a lack of gender equality at the company.” The CWA claims that Activision used “security staff to keep tabs on workers during the walkout.” Another claim from the union is that the publisher threatened to close workers’ internal slack channels “where employees frequently discussed working conditions.” A spokesperson with the CWA told Reuters that both claims were found to have merit.
The reports of union busting within Activision Blizzard couldn’t come at a worse time as the company is still in the midst of being bought by Microsoft. The deal has yet to be finalized as the merger is facing increasing scrutiny from the FTC and European Commission, but it’s expected that the deal will be approved sometime at the end of April.
This is also not the first time anti-union complaints have been lodged at Activision. Last year a separate NLRB complaint claimed that the company used a policy limiting what workers can post on social media to bar them from discussing working conditions, as reported by Reuters(Opens in a new tab).