Nintendo Worker Files Complaint With National Labour Relations Board

Nintendo Worker Files Complaint With National Labour Relations Board
Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

On April 15, an anonymous employee filed a complaint against Nintendo and contracting company Aston Carter with the National Labour Relations Board. The public case docket lists allegations of coercive statements, discharge, retaliation against concerted activities, and surveillance.

The complaint’s existence was first reported by Axios. The specifics of the worker’s accusations are not listed on the NLRB website, but “concerted activities” is a term for the rights workers have under NLRB regulations to work together to address workplace-related issues, while “discharge” in this context can refer to illegal firings or a retaliatory refusal to hire organising workers.

Aston Carter, the organisation named in the complaint alongside Nintendo, is a staffing agency that has previously posted jobs for administrative and customer service roles at the games company. The NLRB notified all involved parties about the case yesterday.

Kotaku reached out to Nintendo for a comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

This isn’t the first time that employees have filed a labour complaint against a major video game company. Last September, employees from Activision Blizzard went to the NLRB to accuse the Call of Duty publisher of coercing union organisers. While that lawsuit had been helped along by CODE-CWA (Campaign to Organise Digital Employees), the Nintendo complaint is being filed by an individual worker. This case marks the first time that Nintendo has become publicly embroiled in the developing, industry-wide conversation surrounding labour rights.

Video game unions are currently having a major moment amid a backdrop of increasing labour organisation in the United States. Raven Software’s QA testers recently formed the first “AAA” game studio union in the United States in response to Activision Blizzard’s layoffs, and previously Vodeo Games recognised the first-ever labour union at an American studio. However, it’s been an upward climb for games industry workers as bosses attempt to manipulate elections, divide workers, and expose staff to anti-union messages.

Despite Nintendo’s relative lack of controversy compared to other major publishers, its workers are as affected by the industry’s changing tides as any other company. Last October, Nintendo announced that it would be shutting down offices in Toronto and California. This new labour complaint is likely another sign of how an increasing number of video game workers seem ready to take back control over their working conditions.

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