Unionisation efforts within Noble Knight Games will move forward towards an official election on December 8th after a period of uncertainty that workers ascribe to “several weeks of anti-union activity” from the Wisconsin-based board game retailer’s ownership.
Noble Knight Games United published a press release on November 21st detailing the weeks following the collective’s previously announced intent to unionise with the Communication Workers of America. The company’s ownership refused to voluntarily recognise the union the following day, and now workers claim the company began a series of union-busting tactics soon after.
According to the press release, Noble Knight Games hired the National Labor Relations Advocates, an Ohio-based firm specialising in representing business owners with unionising workforces. Their website endorses a strong union avoidance stance that likens collective bargaining to disaster: “A union takeover of your workforce would burn down your business as you know it today. Forced unionisation of your company would be every bit as destructive as setting fire to your facility and not having fire insurance.”
Workers allege that NLRA, whose name sounds curiously similar to the National Labor Relations Board - a federal agency that oversees and enforces US labour laws, sent a lawyer to conduct captive audience meetings among the retailer’s staff and dissuaded support for the union. The staff allegedly pushed back, citing their discomfort with this measure and questioning the lawyers legal ability to operate within the store since they were not licensed to practise in Wisconsin.
The lawyer reportedly left a few days later, but Noble Knight Games ownership retained NLRA’s services. More meetings were allegedly conducted by human resources department heads and the company’s vice president. Dicebreaker reached out to Noble Knight Games for confirmation and comment but did not receive a reply.
The company also filed a petition with the NLRB (the federal agency, not the law office whose Twitter account espouses vaccine scepticism) contesting the voting eligibility of 36 individuals - a solid half of the total workforce. Nine were allegedly disputed as supervisors, while another 18 were described by the owners as “improperly influenced in favour of union recognition by Company supervisors and/or managerial personnel”, according to the press release.
Update: NKG ownership is contesting a total of 36 workers' eligibility to vote and join our union. That would be approximately 50% of Noble Knight's workers whose rights they are contesting. We're staying strong! Thanks for your continued support! #WeRollTogether pic.twitter.com/FSkA3IaETG— Noble Knight Games United (@NkgUnited) November 17, 2022
Noble Knight Games United claims they were able to secure voting eligibility for 21 of the 36 disputed workers, while a further nine individuals - seasonal workers, contractors and upper management - were mutually agreed as ineligible. Picking away at the voting body ahead of a union election is a common union-busting tactic that both divides workers and creates time for the company to enact its owner propaganda campaign.
“We’re sad we had to make these concessions in order to move forward quickly, but we look forward to the election,” one employee said in the press release. “We hope for smooth negotiations with the owners after we win. If they are as willing to make improvements as they claim, then negotiations should be easy.”
The union says support remains above 70% despite ownership’s efforts. It will reportedly fight for living wages, healthier work-life balance, more affordable health care options and more transparent hiring and promotion policies. Noble Knight Games United has not yet called for a boycott and states doing so will only offer ownership ammunition against collective bargaining. Voting will be held on December 8th.