Reggie Fils-Aimé says unions happen “when core needs of a worker aren’t being fulfilled”
During a recent interview with CNET, former Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aimé admitted to feeling an ambivalence towards unions in the game industry. Saying that he’s neither “for nor against unionization,” Fils-Aimé added that its existence ultimately comes to a lack of worker needs being met.
Throughout 2022, multiple game developers both big and small have managed to unionize. That said, it hasn’t entirely been easy for some; Activision Blizzard has been fighting the unionization of its Albany branch, and has allegedly employed union-busting tactics for Raven Software’s union.
Speaking about workers overall, Fils-Aimé said that every worker has three needs in life: economic stability, economic mobility, and to be recognized at their workplace. “Workers need to know that they have a job, that they’re going to have a paycheck,” he said.
“There needs to be emotional rewards provided by the job and by the employer…When one of those three needs aren’t being met, then you have a problem.”
As for the game industry specifically, he said that instances such as an unstable work schedule or forced relocation are often the causes to unionization. “As an employer, you need to satisfy those three base requirements of your workforce. When you don’t, you run the risk of different challenges, unionization being just one.”
Fils-Aimé’s answer is evasive, but not entirely surprising. He made similar comments this past May, acknowledging that if employees want unions, companies will have to accept that instead of trying to fight it.
Nintendo of America has been the subject of unionization talks this year. In April and August, the company received anonymous complaints of firing employees for discussing wages and working conditions. These allegations are typically related to the formation of a union; of the April firing, NoA said it was unaware of any unions being formed.