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CWA suggests SEC investigate "misleading" Activision Blizzard filings

The Communications Workers of America union is calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine alleged discrepancies in its disclosures for the Microsoft acquisition.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

January 27, 2022

2 Min Read
A photo of Blizzard Entertainment's headquarters

The Communication Workers of America put out another call for regulatory action regarding the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This time it is focusing on statements made by Activision Blizzard in filings meant to disclose the current state of its business. 

Or rather, the concern is over what isn't in those filings. The CWA contends that Activision Blizzard has made multiple statements to the SEC that says it is not aware of any unionization effort, strike, or other labor action at the company. When it filed said disclosure statement, there was of course a 34-person strike and unionization effort underway 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."

The CWA also notes that Activision Blizzard states it is unaware of any complaints to the National Labor Relations Board. Employees filed a complaint last September.

Game industry lawyer Richard Hoeg did point out a few days ago that these discrepancies may not be discrepancies in the world of complex mergers and acquisitions law. "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.

There still may be weight to the CWA's overall argument. "As a result of these omissions, readers of Activision's merger filing may be misled into believing that the company's well-documented workplace disputes, including widespread allegations of abusive behavior including sexual harassment and sexual assault, and multiple strikes and other work stoppages -- all of which have received extensive, national coverage in multiple media outlets -- have been comprehensively resolved."

The letter includes the argument that "Activision may have acted with an improper motive to conceal the true status of its workplace disputes."

When reached for comment, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided the following statement to Game Developer. "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." 

"As is typical in these types of transactions, there are confidential disclosure schedules to the merger agreement that set forth exceptions to, and modifications of, the representations and warranties in the merger agreement."

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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