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Union sues Activision, claims it unlawfully fired two QA testers

UPDATE: Activision responds.

UPDATE 4pm UK: Activision has provided Eurogamer with a statement in response to the charges filed by the CWA.

"The company is focused on building a culture of inclusiveness," reads the statement. "We have a workplace Code of Conduct policy that has been consistently shared with employees, and when that policy is clearly violated, we take appropriate disciplinary action. Using abusive, harassing, or threatening language toward colleagues is unacceptable, and we are disappointed that the CWA is advocating for this type of behaviour."

The original story follows below.


ORIGINAL STORY 2pm UK: The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed charges against Activision, claiming it violated several workplace laws in relation to firing two QA testers.

This occurred following a decision to force employees back to office working, which was met by resistance by workers.

The CWA has said that "numerous workers protested the [return to office] plan citing cost of living concerns and the impact it would have on their co-workers who might be forced out of their jobs", reports Kotaku.

Cover image for YouTube videoNewscast: Where does Microsoft go next to get its Activision Blizzard deal done?
Newscast: Where does Microsoft go next to get its Activision Blizzard deal done?

In response to the office working plans, two QA testers "expressed their outrage using strong language. In response, management set up disciplinary meetings where both workers were fired," said the CWA.

Charges have been filed specifically against Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and allege that the firings were made "in response to [the employee's] engagement in protected, concerted and union activity".

The CWA has argued that "the use of outbursts and strong language in the context of concerted activity by employees was protected by the National Labor Relations Board", although the Trump administration has "systematically rolled back workers' rights, including modifying the standard for determining whether employees have been lawfully disciplined or discharged after making offensive statements, which ultimately limits free speech rights for employees".

In addition, the CWA alleged Activision "improperly denied a request to have a coworker witness the disciplinary meeting which preceded the termination of [their] employment".

"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," CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens says. "When faced with unfair treatment by unscrupulous employers like Activision, workers should have the right to express themselves."

The CWA has previously filed charges against Activision Blizzard, such as supporting the ABK Alliance against unfair labour practices.

Back in December, Blizzard Albany's QA testers formally formed a union after multiple delays. By contrast, Activision Blizzard studio Proletariat in January dropped plans to form a union following alleged "confrontational tactics" by its CEO.

More recently, Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard, held a company-wide meeting based on an internal employee satisfaction survey that discussed the return to office working. Employees described the meeting as "awful", though Activision Blizzard stated it was "proud" of Ybarra's leadership.