Guy Gets Saved From Being Fired Over Gaming In The Best Way

The union-oriented Twitter account Daily Union Elections asked the world in a recent tweet, “Union folks, what is the best grievance/[Unfair Labor Practice] that you’ve ever won?” And the world responded in kind. As a proud union girl myself, I thought a few stories stood out, but one came up above the rest—a worker accused of gaming on the job, saved because his work computer’s graphics card was too weak.

“A member was accused of playing video games on his work computer,” union organizing director Erik Strobl said. “I got him cleared by proving conclusively that the employer-provided graphics card couldn’t handle the resource-hungry game his supervisor claimed to have seen.”

“If you’re being accused of being a gamer, solve the problem like a gamer,” one commenter said. Other people tried guessing the game.

Dwarf Fortress??” said one reply. “It was The Sims,” said another, “no computers are built for that game.”

“‘He was playing that new Call of Duty shit!’” a commenter imagined. “‘Gerald, the new Call of Duty requires at minimum a GTX 960. This government PC has the performance of an overworked artist on his seventh cup of coffee.’”

But, no, imaginary Gerald was even more off base than you could have guessed. The worker wasn’t even playing a game, but watching “a game review on his break (which is fine),” Strobl clarified, “but he was accused of installing unauthorized third-party software on a government computer (which he 100% didn’t do and, as I showed, couldn’t have done). Zero abuse of time or state property.”

Apparently, this wasn’t the only time someone’s supervisor was unsure of what exactly a video game was—“I once had a supervisor ding me for playing a game,” another Twitter user said. “It was a YouTube video running while data was crunching on the other screen.”

Yes, that’s my favorite game. YouTube.

Do you have any great union stories?


Union Says Activision Fired QA Testers Illegally Over Protest

Image for article titled Activision Accused Of Illegally Firing QA Testers Over Remote Work Protest

Photo: Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) have today filed charges against publisher Activision—a company with a long track record of alleged union-busting—claiming the publisher violated several workplace laws in relation to the firing of two QA testers.

The charges are related to Activision’s recent decision to begin forcing workers back into the office, which has been met with resistance across the company’s workforce. The CWA say that “numerous workers protested the [return to office] plan citing cost of living concerns and the impact it would have on their co-workers who might be forced out of their jobs”.

“Two QA testers expressed their outrage using strong language. In response, management set up disciplinary meetings where both workers were fired.”

The CWA argue that “the use of outbursts and strong language in the context of concerted activity by employees was protected by the National Labor Relations Board” until as recently as 2020, before the Trump administration “systematically rolled back workers’ rights, including modifying the standard for determining whether employees have been lawfully disciplined or discharged after making offensive statements, which ultimately limits free speech rights for employees.”

Activision disagrees. “We don’t allow employees to use profane or abusive language against each other,” a spokesperson for the company, Joseph Christinat, told Kotaku. “We’re disappointed the CWA advocates this type of behavior.”

The charges have been filed against Activision CEO Bobby Kotick directly, and allege that the firings—which took place on February 17—were made “in response to [the employee’s] engagement in protected, concerted and union activity”. The CWA also allege that Activision “improperly denied a request to have a coworker witness the disciplinary meeting which preceded the termination of [their] employment”.

“For far too long, Activision has gotten away with treating its employees, especially QA testers, like disposable work horses. Firing two employees for joining with their co-workers to express concern around hasty return to office policies is retaliation, point blank,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens says. “When faced with unfair treatment by unscrupulous employers like Activision, workers should have the right to express themselves.”

Update 3/1/2023 9:08 a.m. ET: Added comment from Activision.


GameStop Employee Fired After Zelda Edition Switch Leaked

In March, an employee at a Massachusetts GameStop leaked on Reddit that Nintendo was probably about to reveal its long rumored special edition Zelda Switch at an upcoming mini-Direct for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Special editions such as these are highly coveted collector’s items, and news of one for the sequel to a best-selling game would be huge for fans looking to buy a new system. This week, GameStop fired the employee who leaked the news, and the employee claims he was told Nintendo helped make it happen.

Back in March, Mike, who requested Kotaku only use his first name, posted a photo of a GameStop computer screen showing the inventory database had been updated with a secret new Switch model on the Tears of the Kingdom subreddit. It was the day before Nintendo’s big extended gameplay reveal for Tears of the Kingdom, and the employee speculated in the post that a special edition Zelda Switch which had already leaked back in December, would be announced during the stream. Mike says he got fired on April 11, about two weeks later.

An image of a GameStop inventory screen hinting at the special edition Switch appeared on Reddit.

In a phone interview with Kotaku, Mike said he made the leak because he was a big fan of the franchise and wanted to give others a heads up in case pre-orders went live that day. GameStop in particular has seen issues for buyers when it comes to preorders in the past, though this wasn’t a reason cited by Mike for the leak. On March 28, Nintendo did reveal a special edition Switch, and the following day pre-orders went live at GameStop and other retailers.

At the time, the Reddit post didn’t garner a ton of upvotes, and the now former employee said he didn’t think of it as a big deal since he didn’t technically leak any images or special details about the console itself, and the post itself was mostly speculative. Nintendo also tends to release special consoles such as this one for most of its major releases, such as Pokémon.

Collector’s Editions Are A Big Deal At GameStop

But on April 5, a week later, Mike said the company traced the leak back to them. Coming in for his afternoon shift after watching the new Super Mario Bros. Movie on release day, he said his district manager called him into the backroom for a meeting. Joined by another GameStop supervisor via video conference, the employee said he was asked if he made the post and whether he knew it violated company policy.

Mike said he immediately confessed, but maintained he wasn’t aware it went against the company’s social media policies. The district manager took their keys and placed them on suspension, saying the final punishment could vary between a first-offense write up and termination. It ended up being the latter. And the now former employee thinks Nintendo is to blame.

When their store manager called on April 11 to deliver the bad news, he said the supervisor told them “off the record” that Nintendo had forced the company’s hand, demanding the employee be terminated over the leak. Mike shared the allegation on the Tears of the Kingdom subreddit shortly afterwards writing, “Hopefully all of you were able to get your switch pre-orders in as now I will not be able to get mine.”

GameStop and Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Zelda special edition Switch sits in front of a green background.

Image: Nintendo

Another employee at the store corroborated Mike’s account to Kotaku, and said they were told by the same store manager in a separate conversation that Nintendo was the catalyst. “He was an amazing worker,” they said of Mike, adding that he was one of the top performers in the area when it came to achieving GameStop’s aggressive sales goals.

Whoever ultimately made the decision to fire them, the leaker would have been easy to discover. Their social media accounts, including Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch, were linked in various ways to their Reddit account, and included several references to their general geographic location, as well as selfies. “I wasn’t really trying to cover my tracks because I didn’t know it would lead to this,” Mike told Kotaku.

As a large-scale retailer staffed mostly by entry-level workers paid terrible hourly rates, GameStop has historically been a hotbed for big gaming leaks, from Assassin’s Creed to Call of Duty. But it’s rare to hear that someone was actually fired in connection with one of the leaks. It’s perhaps less surprising that this one happens to have been in connection with a big Nintendo reveal, however. The Mario maker has been on the warpath against leaks for years, most recently attempting to subpoena Discord for the private data of someone who shared images from the Tears of the Kingdom collector’s edition artbook.

When asked if the former GameStop employee ultimately managed to secure a Zelda Switch pre-order, Mike confirmed he had. “But sadly I won’t be able to afford it anymore due to lack of a job,” he said. Mike added that when his manager had to deliver the bad news over the phone they pointed out what a shame it was: “This is your favorite company and now they hate you.”


Cop Arrested And Fired For Allegedly Stealing Pokemon Cards

A Pokémon anime still shows Officer Jenny grab Ash Ketchum's pokédex.

Screenshot: OLM / The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

An Alabama corrections officer was arrested and fired over the weekend for stealing Pokémon cards at a Walmart.

According to an article from Alabama news site Advance Local, which had a bit of fun with the headline “Gotta catch ‘em all?” Calhoun County corrections officer Josh Hardy was arrested on August 12 at 7 p.m. for attempting a five-finger Poké-discount by opening up multiple Pokémon card packs and swiping individual cards into his pocket within full view of a Walmart loss prevention employee. When Hardy was confronted over his act of theft, he fled the Oxford, Alabama store on foot, the news site reported.

Sometime after Walmart staff reported the crime to the Oxford Police, Hardy was found at a local restaurant with the stolen Pokémon cards still in his pockets, at which point he was arrested and charged with theft. To make matters all the more awkward, Hardy had committed the Pokécrime and was subsequently arrested while in uniform. Irony found dead.

“It is with great embarrassment that we have to report this incident, and Hardy has been terminated from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office,” Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said in a statement to the public. “He has tarnished our agency and the image of all law enforcement. As sheriff, I promised to be transparent and hold my staff accountable to a standard higher than average citizens.”

Read More: Men Simply Walk Away With $300,000 Of Stolen Magic: The Gathering Cards

Former Alabama corrections officer Hardy’s cartoonish card theft closely follows another peculiar trading card game-related heist committed in broad daylight. Just last week at Gen Con, an annual tabletop gaming convention held at the Indiana Convention Center, a couple of thieves stole boxes full of Magic: The Gathering cards worth an estimated $300,000.


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