Workers at Sega of America say the publisher behind Persona, Yakuza, and more beloved gaming franchises is trying to lay them off as retaliation for unionizing. A new unfair labor practice filed by the Communications Workers of America accuses Sega of forcing employees into a meeting where they were told their jobs would be offshored to Japan and Europe, rather than bargaining over the layoffs directly with the union.
On November 6 Sega delivered a proposal to “phase out” all temporary workers by February 2024—many of which are in quality assurance and localization—to the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS-CWA). The union, which formed earlier this year, currently represents over 200 employees across marketing, sales, product development, and other departments.
The layoffs would impact 40 percent of the group, or roughly 80 unionized employees total. Instead of bargaining with the union over the changes, however, Sega proceeded to deliver the news directly to employees in a required meeting, potentially violating rules against companies negotiating directly with unionized employees instead of with their union.
“It’s disheartening to see such actions from Sega, as it unmistakably demonstrates bad faith bargaining and a refusal to recognize the valuable contributions of a significant portion of our colleagues,” Elise Willacker, a senior QA tester at Sega, said in a statement emailed to Kotaku. “We have filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge to call out Sega’s direct dealing with members, and its breaching of the status quo by telling bargaining unit members that our jobs would be ending shortly.”
Sega did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ULP will go to the National Labor Relations Board for review, but it may not be resolved in time to prevent mass layoffs. Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega is one of the biggest unions to have formed in the video game industry so far, and is unique in encompassing employees from all different types of roles rather than being department specific. Its bargaining fight with Sega comes as big gaming publishers and studios across the industry are trying to cut costs and lay people off.
“Sega will not be allowed to get away with this unlawful behavior. We call on the company to make all temporary employees permanent and return to the bargaining table in good faith. There is no other just alternative,” Willacker wrote.