Fragster | 12. August 2022

Nintendo faces another labor complaint

More and more stories about Nintendo and its working conditions are slowly coming to light, not exactly making the gaming company shine. Recently, another worker filed a labor complaint against Nintendo — the second in five months.  

So far, Nintendo has been relatively quiet. While every other big company has been at some point caught in the crossfire, Nintendo has always been conspicuous by its absence from the headlines. But it looks like there’s a lot going on behind the scenes there too, as another worker has lodged a complaint against the company this year.

Second complaint this year

The number of workplace complaints at Nintendo America is increasing, partly because workers are becoming more aware of their rights. The second labor complaint this year has to do with the company violating the rights of its employees and was filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

Part of the complaint alleges that Nintendo and one of the companies it uses to hire contractors, Aston Carter, have imposed “coercive rules” in the workplace, which is illegal. According to US law, an employer may not intimidate, threaten, coerce, or otherwise impose rules on its employees in case they seek to unionize.

The other part of the complaint alleges that Nintendo and Aston Carter retaliated or fired someone for communicating with other colleagues about wages, unions and other important workplace issues. The complaint states that the two companies in some way obstructed or punished workers who did so.

Workers sue Nintendo

A similar complaint was filed against Nintendo in April 2022, after the company’s employee was reportedly fired after they raised the issue of union organizing at a company-wide meeting. Nintendo denied the allegation, instead stating that the employee was fired for mishandling private information. This encouraged even more current and former Nintendo employees to speak up about exploitative working conditions.

The complaints against Nintendo have not yet been resolved, but are being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board based in Washington. However, it could take weeks or months before anything happens.

Are employees being stalled and taken advantage of?

According to reports of some current and ex-Nintendo employees in Redmond, Washington, the problems were even worse than the alleged retaliation. For many, the chance to work for Nintendo is an absolute dream. For the hundreds of contract employees at Nintendo of America, however, that dream can feel forever out of reach because the company treats them like second-class employees.

The reports on social media described a two-tier system in which workers on 11-month contracts are funneled through external agencies, with mandatory two-month breaks in between. They say they can apply for unemployment during this time but have no access to health care, and the breaks between contracts can sometimes be much longer.

Billion dollar company pays minimum wage

Many Nintendo testers say they make no more than $16 an hour, which is less than the minimum wage in neighboring Seattle. This naturally begs the question of why one of the most popular gaming companies with record profits is not paying its employees adequately.

Apparently, Nintendo of America relies with its product testing, customer service, and other departments upon an army of contract workers, who have no health insurance and little chance of promotion to full-time positions. Such behavior is well-known for large companies, for example, Activision Blizzard, which did a similar thing for a long time and paid its testers very little money.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employees to first have to fight for their rights in order not to be exploited. It remains to be seen how the lawsuit will continue in the near future.