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Activision Blizzard accused of spying on protesting workers

·Reporter
·2 min read
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is still receiving complaints over alleged labor violations. The Communications Workers of America union (CWA) has filed an unfair labor practice charge accusing the game developer of illegally surveilling workers during a July walkout protest over gender inequity. The company also denied access to a chat channel discussing working conditions and otherwise cut off internal avenues for discussing labor, the CWA said.

In statements to Engadget, Activision Blizzard generally dismissed the assertions. It said the chat accusations were false, and that the CWA's long-running characterization "willfully ignores the facts" while preventing the company from protecting workers against abuse. The company also argued that its only overseers for walkouts were public relations staffers standing at a "respectful distance" to answer questions from the press.

The company previously said it was cooperating with investigations into its workplace practices and has argued that employees could speak freely about their workplace situations. However, the CWA maintained that the Call of Duty publisher has made "continued efforts" to stifle labor organizers, such as refusing to recognize a quality assurance union and hiring the union-busting law firm Reed Smith.

The charge is the latest in a string of labor-related accusations beyond the sexual harassment scandal that began much of the current uproar. The CWA filed a charge in June claiming Activision Blizzard broke labor law by firing QA contractors. In May, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined there was merit behind allegations the company was threatening labor organizers. Multiple reports have also circulated claims that the gaming giant has been pushing anti-union messages.

The new complaint doesn't necessarily change Activision Blizzard's predicament. The company risks penalties and mandatory policy changes if it's found to be violating labor law. The charge adds further pressure, however, and could shape potential punishment.