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Communications Workers of America Files Unfair Labor Charges Against Activision Blizzard
14/09/2021 à 15:38
The Communications Workers of America union has
filed unfair labor charges
against Activision Blizzard, alleging the company has used coercive rules and tactics in an attempt to prevent employees from organizing to demand a more equitable workplace, such as the previous allegations that HR departments were
using non-disclosure agreements to require employees to speak with the company before contacting the DFEH
suit has been opened
with the National Labor Relations Board, which is an independent federal agency responsible for enforcing U.S. labor law, and is part of the ongoing
legal turmoil engulfing Activision Blizzard
Ending mandatory arbitration in employee contracts was the first demand raised by Activision Blizzard employees
following their walkout in July
. Arbitration is the practice of involving a third party to mediate disputes between two parties, such as an employee and their company, and while ostensibly meant to easily settle disputes much faster and cheaper than bringing the matter to court, it has been the subject of criticisms that the process favors companies much more than their employees.
Unlike a court, arbitrators are picked by the company, so while they are supposed to be impartial, there's little way to guarantee that they actually will be. Also unlike judges, arbitrators are rarely required to explain the reasoning behind their decisions.
Likewise, arbitrators are not bound by legal precedents or procedure, so there's potential for circumventing federal protections that would otherwise be recognized in a court of law, such as the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Finally, the dispute, process of arbitration, and its result are almost always kept private. This is of particular importance where sexual harassment or discrimination is concerned, as although the arbitration may actually provide compensation to the aggrieved party or result in the termination of an offending employee, it can also be used to cover up the problem and allow chronic offenders to continue their behavior elsewhere.
But all of this is secondary to the real problem caused by
contract clauses, which give the employees no recourse. If they don't wish to use or simply don't trust the arbitration process, refusing it is usually grounds for contract termination, and requiring employees to sign their options away has been a major part of Activision Blizzard employee concerns. While in a perfect world, third party arbitration may be a useful tool for easily settling disputes that would otherwise take months or years in court, it's placing an awful lot of trust in corporate environments which rarely if ever consider the best interests of employees over that of the company.
Founded in 1947, the Communications Workers of America is the largest communications and media labor union in the United States, formed to organize intendent local unions on a national scale. Although initially organizing telephone workers, it has now expanded to cover electronic and machine workers, cable broadcasting employees, journalists, print workers, lab technicians, and even flight attendants. While the video game industry is not unionized, that does not prevent the CWA from filing charges on their behalf, though they do not represent the employees directly in any talks or negotiations that may take place. The Communications Workers of America and their various local sectors have a long history of , such as the 18 month
anti-discrimination negotiation with Facebook
after discovering it enabled advertisers to exclude sub groups of users from receiving job advertisements. The CWA's involvement of this case would appear to be part of their ongoing
campaign to organize digital employees
, and unionize workers across the tech and games industry.
We are very inspired by the bravery of ABK workers, and we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with workers fighting harassment, assault, and discrimination. Management could have responded with humility and a willingness to take necessary steps to address the horrid conditions some ABK workers have faced. Instead Activision Blizzard’s response to righteous worker activity was surveillance, intimidation, and hiring notorious union busters. The National Labor Relations Board under the Biden Administration has made it clear that it will hold companies accountable whenever they break the law; we have filed these charges to ensure that the actions of ABK management will not go unanswered.
- Tom Smith, national Organizing Director
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