Activision Blizzard Agrees to Begin Union Negotiations
Workspan Daily
June 17, 2022
Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard Inc. CEO Bobby Kotick has announced that the video game publisher will start negotiating with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) over a collective bargaining agreement for employees at its subsidiary Raven Software, Time reports.  

Kotick’s announcement comes weeks after a group of 28 video game testers at Raven Software voted to form a union, marking a first for a major video game company.  

“While first labor contracts can take some time to complete, we will meet CWA leaders at the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that supports the success of all our employees,” Kotick wrote in an email to employees.  

Activision Blizzard’s initial reaction to Raven Software’s union push drew criticism, including allegations of union-busting, according to Time, noting that Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard and has said it will work with unions.  

Acknowledging that “the workplace is changing,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith wrote in a June 2 blog post that the company respects employees’ right to unionize and does not believe that the organization’s employees or stakeholders “benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union.”  

The following day, the CWA filed a complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board alleging that Activision Blizzard illegally retaliated against employees over unionization efforts.  

In a statement, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens described Kotick’s recent announcement as a step toward improved labor relations at Activision Blizzard.  

“We know that the management approach recommended by anti-union consultants is ineffective and detrimental,” said Steffens, expressing hope that Kotick’s statement “is the first of many steps toward full collaboration between [Activision Blizzard] leadership and employees to positively shape the future of Activision through a strong union contract.”  

Criminal Investigation Probes Wells Fargo’s Hiring Practices 

As reported by ABC News, federal prosecutors in Manhattan have begun a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo to determine whether the multinational financial services company’s hiring practices broke the law.  

The launch of the investigation comes on the heels of a New York Times report in which current and former Wells Fargo employees said they were told by superiors to interview women and people of color even though the hiring decision had already been made.  

As ABC News coverage pointed out, the Times based its report partly on Wells Fargo employee Joe Bruno’s claim that bank managers interviewed applicants considered diverse for positions that were already promised to others. According to the Times, Bruno was fired after speaking out about this practice.  

“No one should be put through an interview without a real chance of receiving an offer, period. The diverse slate guidelines we put in place are meant to increase diverse representation across the company, and we can see meaningful results in our hiring data since 2020, Wells Fargo said in a statement provided to ABC News.  

“At the same time, it’s important that implementation of our guidelines is consistent. Earlier this week, the company temporarily paused the use of its diverse slate guidelines,” the statement continued. “During this pause, the company is conducting a review so that hiring managers, senior leaders and recruiters fully understand how the guidelines should be implemented – and so we can have confidence that our guidelines live up to their promise.” 

Study: Companies Prioritizing LGBTQ+ Inclusion 

new report from Deloitte finds that many organizations are making the inclusion of LGBTQ+ workers a priority, creating an overall positive impact in the workplace, as Yahoo! Finance reported.  

In a survey of 600 individuals from companies across 12 geographies and a range of sectors, Deloitte saw more than 70% of LGBTQ+ employees saying they are more inclined to stay with their current employer because of its approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion. Many of these same respondents cited visible allyship and the availability of employee resource groups (ERGs) as key enablers of an inclusive culture.   

Still, progress remains to be made, with 42% of all survey participants saying they have experienced non-inclusive behaviors at work.  

“It is clear that employers are taking steps to incorporate [LGBT+] inclusion into their DE&I strategies, and that this is regarded positively by their LGBT+ employees,” said Emma Codd, global inclusion leader at Deloitte, in a statement.  

“However, it is also clear that there is much more for these organizations to do to fully embed LGBT+ inclusion into their everyday culture. Organizations need to go beyond programs to embed a truly respectful culture where non-inclusive behaviors are not tolerated and everyone feels able to be out at work.”  

Company Allegedly Gives Workers One Day’s Notice for Return-to-Office 

CBC News reports that a union representing engineers, scientists and technical and administrative staff claims hundreds of employees at Mississauga, Ontario-based Candu Energy Inc. were given less than two working days’ notice to return to the office full-time, five days a week.  

CBC News spoke to four employees at Candu Energy Inc., who confirmed they received the notice about returning to the workplace on Monday, June 13, through an internal memo sent last Thursday, June 9. The employees told CBC News that they were previously informed that a return to the office likely wouldn’t happen until September, and when they did return, they would be working in a hybrid model.  

“There was no rationale, there was no explanation provided why they flipped from, ‘It’s going to be gradual, it’s going to be hybrid,’ to everyone returning five days a week on Monday,” said Denise Coombs, staff representative with the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA). 

The decision comes amid a dispute between the union and parent company SNC-Lavalin. The two sides are negotiating a collective agreement with some workers now on strike. According to Coombs, this policy change came after the union rejected the company's latest offer. 

“It’s very clear that what happened here — they wanted to force us to accept an offer,” said Coombs. 

The company denies the allegation, saying “flexible work arrangements” are part of the negotiations. Coombs says talks between the union and management will continue with a government-appointed conciliation officer, according to CBC News.  

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