Tech Union Files Charges Against Activision After Firing Two Testers Over Profanity
Activision, one of the largest video game publishers in the world, is facing backlash after it fired two testers for allegedly using “profane” language on the job. The move has sparked a debate about worker’s rights and the power dynamic between employers and employees.
The two testers, who were employed by Activision through a third-party contractor, were let go after a manager overheard them using curse words while they were discussing the game they were testing. The incident occurred during a break in testing and was not directed at anyone in particular.
The testers, who are members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), a major tech union, claim that their termination was unjustified and that they were singled out for speaking their minds. In response, the CWA has filed charges against Activision with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that the company violated their right to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
According to the NLRB, protected concerted activity is when employees act together to improve their working conditions or terms of employment, such as discussing wages or working conditions. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who engage in protected concerted activity.
Workers have the right to discuss their working conditions, including their opinions on the products they are testing. Activision’s actions were a clear violation of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.Tom Smith, a spokesperson for the CWA.
The incident has sparked a larger conversation about worker’s rights in the video game industry. Many video game companies, including Activision, rely heavily on contract workers for testing and development. Contract workers often have less job security and benefits than full-time employees and can be let go at any time without cause.
Contract workers are often treated as disposable and are not given the same protections as full-time employeesSmith
Activision has not yet commented on the charges filed by the CWA. However, the company has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of contract workers. In 2019, a group of contract workers at the company’s Blizzard Entertainment subsidiary staged a walkout to protest their working conditions.
The video game industry has seen a number of high-profile labor disputes in recent years, as workers have pushed back against long hours, low pay, and poor working conditions. In 2019, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) conducted a survey of over 1,000 game developers and found that 51% of respondents reported working overtime without pay. The survey also found that women and non-binary respondents reported higher rates of workplace discrimination and harassment than their male counterparts.
The ongoing debate about worker’s rights in the video game industry has led to the formation of several unions, including the Game Workers Unite and the recently formed workers union at Kickstarter. These unions aim to give workers more bargaining power and to push for better working conditions and pay.
As the video game industry continues to grow and expand, the issues of worker’s rights and the power dynamic between employers and employees are likely to become even more pressing. The charges filed by the CWA against Activision are just the latest example of the growing tension between workers and employers in the industry, and they highlight the need for stronger protections for contract workers and for the industry to address systemic issues related to worker exploitation and mistreatment.
In the meantime, the charges filed by the CWA will be reviewed by the NLRB, which will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a formal complaint against Activision. If the complaint is upheld, the case could go to trial, and Activision could face penalties and fines for violating the National Labor Relations Act.
The outcome of the case could have broader implications for the video game industry and for the rights of contract workers in general. It could also lead to increased pressure on companies like Activision to improve their treatment of contract workers and to give them the same protections and benefits as full-time employees.
For now, the charges filed by the CWA serve as a reminder that workers have the right to speak up and to advocate for their rights, even in industries where they may feel powerless or disposable. The video game industry may be a high-profile example of these issues, but they are relevant to workers in all industries, and they highlight the need for stronger protections for all workers, especially those who are most vulnerable and marginalised.
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