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Company that provided QA testing to Activision accused of unfair practices after 160 people laid off

In "retaliation" for union activities, union says.

Official Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 screenshot showing an enemy in tactical gear
Image credit: Activision

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of America's largest unions, has filed Unfair Labour Practice charges against Microsoft supplier Lionbridge Technologies.

According to the CWA, Lionbridge laid off the entirety of an Idaho-based team, equating to 160 people, after they engaged in union-related activity. This team, the CWA said, provided QA testing for Activision.

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In addition, the CWA stated Lionbridge had offered workers a severance package which "required them to agree to overly broad confidentiality terms and to waive rights protected under the National Labor Relations Act". The CWA says the US National Labor Relations Board has ruled this practise to be unlawful.

Those affected were allegedly told their termination was due to their project coming to a close, however the CWA said others on the same project elsewhere remained in employment. It noted that those in Mexico and Poland "continue to work", despite what Lionbridge told the Idaho team about the project coming to an end.

This is not the first time the Microsoft supplier has been accused of engaging in what the CWA describes as "union-busting". The same thing happened in 2016, when Lionbridge laid off union members in Bellevue, Washington. This particular batch of layoffs reportedly happened "shortly after workers finalised a first collectively bargained contract with the company", with the CWA stating: "That unit also provided subcontracted labour to Microsoft."

The CWA now wants Microsoft to hold its contractors such as Lionbridge to the same standards the company has set for itself. Two years ago, Microsoft signed a labour neutrality agreement with CWA, which would go into effect 60 days after the closure of its then-ongoing acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Earlier this month, the CWA and Microsoft announced that they had extended their labour neutrality agreement to cover workers at ZeniMax Media Inc.

Eurogamer has reached out to Microsoft and Activision for further comment on today's report.

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