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Nintendo, staffing partner, hit with NLRB complaint

Nintendo is accused of coercive actions, coercive statements, concerted activities, and dismissing an employee in response to worker organizing activity.

An anonymous worker has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about Nintendo of America and staffing partner Aston Carter. The two companies stand accused of interfering with an employees' legally protected right to organize their workplace, though details about what actions they took are currently scant.

The NLRB complaint (spotted by Axios) lists four allegations against Aston Carter and Nintendo of America. These include "discharge" (layoffs or refusal to hire), concerted activities (retaliation, discipline, firing), coercive statements (threats or promises of benefits), and coercive actions (surveilling employees).

No specific incidents or events are described as part of the filing.

Online job listings indicate Aston Carter hires for multiple contract roles at Nintendo, including customer service and game tester positions. The complaint against the company was filed on April 18.

This would be the second formal complaint filed with the NLRB by an employee of a major video game company in the the last half-year. In September, Activision Blizzard employees accused their employer of threatening them for discussing wages, hours, and working conditions. A second complaint against that company was quietly filed in December.

In January, employees at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software petitioned the NLRB for a unionization vote.

Seeing Aston Carter's name in this filing is eyebrow-raising, as this likely narrows the range of impacted employees to contract workers hired by the staffing firm. Nintendo, like other game industry employers, outsources some hiring to external firms, who are responsible for paying and managing contract workers.

Said workers often do not share the benefits they would receive if they were full-time employees of the studio that contracted their official employer. Contracts can often be cut short, and benefits reduced, all while maintaining heavy work hours at the company.

We've reached out to Nintendo to ask about this NLRB filing, and will update this story when the company responds.

Update 4/21: A Nintendo spokesperson provided the following statement in response to our query about this filing. The company is alleging that the former employee who filed the complaint was fired for breaching their confidentiality agreement. 

"We are aware of the claim, which was filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a contractor who was previously terminated for the disclosure of confidential information and for no other reason. Nintendo is not aware of any attempts to unionize or related activity and intends to cooperate with the investigation conducted by the NLRB." 

"Nintendo is fully committed to providing a welcoming and supportive work environment for all our employees and contractors. We take matters of employment very seriously."

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