Nintendo Receives Second Labor Complaint This Year

Published: August 11, 2022 10:07 AM /


Gamers gathered around a Nintendo Switch on a rooftop

Nintendo has received its second labor complaint this year. Another worker has filed a complaint against the gaming giant, alleging that the company imposed "coercive rules" and that it retaliated against "concerted activities" on the part of the employee.

What is this new Nintendo labor complaint about?

Earlier this year, an employee filed an NLRB labor complaint against Nintendo, alleging anti-union activity. While the complaint document itself was not particularly informative, it included charges such as "coercive statements", retaliation or discipline against "concerted activities", and others. Now, a second labor complaint has been filed against the company as well as talent management firm Aston Carter (which was also named in the first complaint), and the second complaint includes one of the same charges as the first, suggesting that it too is alleging anti-union activity on Nintendo's behalf.

Mario wearing a builder's uniform in Super Mario Maker 2, intended as a visual parallel for the new Nintendo labor complaint
A second labor complaint within a year is not a good look for Nintendo.

The complaint was originally spotted by Axios, with reporter Stephen Totilo pointing out that charges such as "coercive rules" and "retaliation, discharge, discipline" usually refer to anti-union activity such as interfering with union formation or the discussion of working conditions. As before, the document itself is rather vague, so it doesn't contain specific details regarding the nature of the employee's complaint. However, it's fair to say that a second employee complaint, and one that seems once again to allege anti-union activity, is very much not a good look for Nintendo. In fairness to the Japanese gaming giant, Nintendo denies allegations of union-busting in the case of the first complaint earlier this year, alleging that the employee was dismissed because they broke confidentiality agreements. Nintendo has yet to comment on the second complaint.

Is there a reckoning regarding unionization in the gaming industry?

For a long time, the gaming industry has lagged behind when it comes to unionization and worker representation. To some extent, that appears to be changing, or perhaps it's more accurate to say that more and more people are becoming aware of the dire situation workers' rights are in when it comes to the gaming industry. Workers in companies like Activision Blizzard, BioWare QA contractor Keywords Studios, and Raven Software are either unionizing or announcing plans to unionize, and reports suggest that almost 80% of workers in the gaming industry support unionization.

An intense gun battle going on in Raven Software's Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War developer Raven Software is just one of several video game companies to unionize recently.

Of course, bigger companies and publishers often do their best to stifle these efforts. Activision Blizzard reportedly discouraged its employees from unionizing, and although the company eventually agreed to talks with the newly-formed Raven Software union, the Albany branch of the Game Workers Alliance recently said that Activision was attempting to stifle its own union as well. With more and more industry workers seemingly interested in unionizing and more big companies apparently being held to account for union-busting activities, though, it's hard to see this issue disappearing anytime soon, presumably to the chagrin of big studios like Activision Blizzard. We'll bring you more on gaming unions and the industry as soon as we get it.


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