Union the Communication Workers of America is pushing the SEC to look deeper into the background of Activision Blizzard. Ahead of the possible merger between Activision Blizzard and Microsoft, there may be some pushback from the union and other organizations. The filing process for these kinds of mergers is built on transparency. The companies involved have to disclose a few different aspects of their business and its relationships, mostly to give regulators a clearer picture of their general goings-on.
The process, and the alleged misrepresentation, are related to a disclosure filing that Activision Blizzard has presented to regulators. Various aspects of their business and the state of labor relations at the company are discussed. The relevant bit concerns labor unionization efforts, and the company’s attempts to seemingly ignore ongoing efforts. The biggest new recently is that a union effort led by QA employees has kicked off at Call of Duty: Warzone developer Raven Software.
“To the Knowledge of the Company, there are no pending activities or proceedings of any labor union, trade union, works council or any similar labor organization to organize any employees of the Company or any of its Subsidiaries with regard to their employment with the Company or any of its Subsidiaries,” the disclosure states.
“No Collective Bargaining Agreement is being negotiated by the Company or any of its Subsidiaries. There is no strike, lockout, material slowdown, or material work stoppage against the Company or any of its Subsidiaries pending or, to the Knowledge of the Company, threatened directly against the Company or any of its Subsidiaries.”
This bit of wording is tricky. As it seems the company is only referring to ongoing efforts in the present tense. Technically speaking, their words may not be entirely wrong. The issue is that it sort of ignores the past grievances. Employees at various elements of the company have walked out in protest on several occasions in the last few months. All of this comes after lawsuits in California were filed against the company over labor practices.
Game industry lawyer Richard Hoeg spoke on the potential implications of these filings and the statements on Twitter. Within the musings, he said that mergers and acquisitions law is kind of strange, mainly that these discrepancies may seemingly be ignored. “Each will be subject to a disclosure schedule (here labeled the “Company Disclosure Letter”) that will serve as an exception to the representation,” he explained. The outcome based on the alleged misrepresentations has yet to be seen, but it could cause problems. In simple terms, the company will likely try to negotiate and argue around the semantics, and could have to concede ground during said negotiations.
The CWA also alleges that Activision Blizzard is effectively ignoring ongoing issues by saying it is unaware of any complaints to the National Labor Relations Board. Employees filed a complaint last September, alleging widespread abuse and mistreatment.
The response to these issues from Activision Blizzard has been predictable dodginess. In a statement to Gamedeveloper, a spokesperson said the following: “We can only speak generally about the merger agreement. Activision Blizzard is focused on creating a welcoming and inclusive workforce in our industry and takes seriously all labor and employment matters.”