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Workers' rights group blasts Telltale Games over layoffs

By midian182 · 11 replies
Sep 24, 2018
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  1. CEO Pete Hawley said that the positive feedback Telltale received for its game releases this year hasn’t translated into sales. As such, all but 25 employees were being let go. The skeleton crew that remained were there to “fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners.”

    Game Workers Unite, which describes itself as “a grassroots democratic organization of people dedicated to advocating for workers' rights and the crafting of a unionized game industry,” has called Telltale’s executives incompetent and exploitative for failing to warn employees about the layoffs. It writes that the company has a history of management disregarding workers, and this is an example “of the ongoing prioritization of board members and shareholders that has existed since the studio’s founding - always to the detriment of their employees.”

    Emily Grace Buck, who was a narrative designer at Telltale, explained on Twitter that healthcare for the 250 people only lasts one more week. She added that many former employees were contract workers who can’t get unemployment benefits in the US.

    Buck also revealed that Telltale was hiring people up until a week before the layoffs, with at least one person relocating across the country to join the firm. Without a severance package, the ex-workers, many of whom have families and children, are facing a struggle.

    Several game studios, including Ubisoft San Francisco, Blizzard, Harebrained Schemes, and BioWare have announced they’re now hiring. Many of the companies used the #telltalejobs hashtag in their posts, while some reached out directly.

    Game Workers Unite says incidents like these are prevalent in the game industry. “This is a problem that we see time and time again throughout the industry; and we will continue to see as long as management is able to take advantage of workers,” it explained in a statement.

    As for Telltale’s future titles, it appears the final season of The Walking Dead will not be finished, with the series set to end after the second episode launches tomorrow. At least one person who bought the full season has managed to receive a refund from Steam. The Wolf Among Us season 2 and the Stranger Things game have been canceled.

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    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,267   +1,367

    "has called Telltale’s executives incompetent and exploitative for failing to warn employees about the layoffs."

    Was there a law stating they required advanced notice? If not, there was no rule broken, so they cannot be called incompetent. (side note, this kind of language is part of the reason people dislike unions). Typically, when a company goes bankrupt, it is very sudden, it sucks, but that is part of life.
     
    p51d007 likes this.
  3. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Addict Posts: 291   +132

    "Several game studios, including Ubisoft San Francisco, Blizzard, Harebrained Schemes, and BioWare have announced they’re now hiring. Many of the companies used the #telltalejobs hashtag in their posts, while some reached out directly." I like that :D.
     
  4. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Addict Posts: 291   +132

    I work for/most companies here are "equal opportunity employers" and there's no policy to forewarn me of a firing, not sure about a lay off but said company has laid us off literally the next day without notice so...yea. Plus I can be fired for any reason at all. Wearing a red shirt, boss doesn't like my mom because she turned him down in highschool. Literally and reason lol.
     
    Rayzor and p51d007 like this.
  5. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 986   +508

    60-day notice is require for all layoffs per California law.

    https://www.edd.ca.gov/jobs_and_training/Layoff_Services_WARN.htm
     
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,607   +923

    "Game Workers Unite, which describes itself as “a grassroots democratic organization"
    In other words a SOCIALIST organization, in which if they got their foot in, would drive
    costs associated with their union UP. With all the goofy liberal laws in California, it should
    be a "workers paradise". Then explain why so many people & businesses are FLEEING
    the state.
     
  7. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 638   +311

    Assuming part-time means contractors then they are covered and entitled to 60 days of back pay:
    "Applicable to a “covered establishment” with 75 or more employees full or part-time."
    "An employer must give notice 60-days prior to a plant closing, layoff or relocation."
    "Employees may receive back pay to be paid at employee’s final rate or 3 year average rate of compensation, whichever is higher. In addition, employer is liable for cost of any medical expenses incurred by employees that would have been covered under an employee benefit plan. The employer is liable for period of violation up to 60 days"
     
    Rayzor likes this.
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,048   +1,338


    And if they don't, it says that the employer is liable for back pay. But if they're out of money then that doesn't really matter - a piece of nothing is still nothing.

    I'm surprised by this law... I work at a company that has laid people off when divisions have shut down etc. Sometimes people get notice, sometimes they aren't even allowed to return to their desks without being guarded by security. It depends on how much harm they could cause.

    Regardless - what TellTale did is BS. No notice, no warning, no severance. They handled this badly. The people who made this decision will hopefully have a very hard time finding work in CA after this.
     
    Rayzor likes this.
  9. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,255   +539

    I wouldn't assume just because someone is a part time worker they are contract workers. They could be but not necessarily. Keep in mind contractors are not employees and are not covered by labor or employment laws. Part time or full time it makes no difference.
     
  10. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 326   +83

    What comes around...
     
  11. Rayzor

    Rayzor TS Rookie

    ...will probably come around again? I might just be overly cynical here but I suspect those other game studios aren't providing charity. They're most likely jumping on available talent now that whatever backroom anti-poaching agreements they had are null and void. Don't settle for a lesser deal just because you're in a tight spot, and be prepared for this to happen again in the future.
     
  12. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Maniac Posts: 471   +172

    I'm not a big proponent of unions, but it was a scurrilous move.
     

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