NOBLE KNIGHT GAMES UNITED
Employees of Noble Knight Games
2835 Commerce Park Drive
Fitchburg, WI, 53719
NOBLE KNIGHT GAMES WORKERS REACH AGREEMENT FOR STIPULATED UNION ELECTION ON DECEMBER 8
After a dispute with the company’s owners over the right to vote and union eligibility of up to 36 employees, an agreement has been negotiated to move forward with an election.
MADISON, WI., November 21, 2022 – Following several weeks of anti-union activity and eligibility disputes, an agreement was reached this weekend that will allow Noble Knight Games’ (NKG) employees a stipulated union election on December 8th. “The first in what we hope is a long line of agreements for the betterment of NKG’s workers,” said one employee, who requested to remain anonymous.
After filing a petition to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on October 31, employees at Noble Knight Games hoped the company ownership would follow the footsteps of companies like Paizo Publishing, and voluntarily recognize the union. “We really thought they might at least consider it,” said one organizer, “but they formally declined in writing the very next day.”
Since then, the company hired a “Union Avoidance” law firm whose website claims “unionization of your company would be every bit as destructive as setting fire to your facility and not having fire insurance.” Workers say a lawyer from the firm, National Labor Relations Advocates, spent several days at Noble Knight Games conducting captive audience meetings with employees to discourage them from supporting the union.
After pushback from staff, who stated their discomfort with these meetings and concerns that the lawyer was not in fact licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, the union avoidance lawyer returned to his home state of North Carolina after only a few days. Workers say they were informed that this lawyer would not return to their workplace, but the company will continue to retain the firm. Since the lawyer’s departure, captive audience meetings have continued, but held exclusively by NKG’s Vice President and HR department heads.
Several employees noted that they were asked to “Give the owners another chance,” while still others were asked to withdraw the petition to unionize. Some were told that if the union were no longer “in the way,” the company could move swiftly forward with improvements.
During this time, Noble Knight Games’ ownership filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to contest the union eligibility or right to vote of thirty-six employees, approximately half of the workforce. Of these, nine consisted of independent contractors, seasonal workers, and upper management or ownership, mutually agreed to be ineligible. Another nine were disputed as “supervisors.”
A further eighteen more were claimed as ineligible to vote due to ownership’s belief that they were “improperly influenced in favor of union recognition by Company supervisors and/or managerial personnel,” according to the public record. Ultimately, the Union was able to secure the voting rights of those eighteen workers.
Stalling tactics such as these are commonly employed by anti-union campaigns to wear down employees and prevent a swift election.
In order to prevent such a delay, an agreement was negotiated rendering six of the remaining disputed workers ineligible to vote or join the union, and three eligible. A Norris-Thermador agreement was added to prevent the eligible workers’ votes from being contested after the election. Following this agreement, the NLRB scheduled a stipulated election to take place on Thursday, December 8th, 2022. This election will determine if Noble Knight’s employees will formally become a union.
Employee organizers state that despite the trials of the last few weeks, support for the union among the eligible staff remains at or above 70%. “We’re sad we had to make these concessions in order to move forward quickly, but we look forward to the election. 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.”
Noble Knight Games is a privately owned, primarily online retailer of tabletop games including board games, role-playing games, collectible card games, and more. Founded in 1997, Noble Knight Games has seen rapid growth in recent years, now employing approximately 75 workers. Sources report that the business is planning a multi-million dollar expansion to their Fitchburg, WI store and warehouse in 2023, to include more warehouse space and a private museum.
The owner and CEO, Aaron Leeder, and his brother Dan Leeder (Vice President) have so far declined to make a public comment or statement or respond to media requests.
NOBLE KNIGHT GAMES UNITED
For press inquiries, contact the Union Organizing Committee
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA (CWA)
For press inquiries:
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD Case #18-RC-306203
Media Assets https://bit.ly/NKGUnited-Media
Solidarity Phrase for supporters: We Roll Together. #WeRollTogether
How can you show your support? Noble Knight Games workers are not calling for a boycott. A decline in business could provide an excuse for ownership to cut staff. The employees at Noble Knight want the business to succeed and continue to grow, while better supporting the passionate, dedicated workers who love spreading the joy of games.
Instead, Noble Knight Games United suggests that you voice your support by:
- Mentioning #WeRollTogether on your order notes online, or in person at the store.
- Tagging Noble Knight Games in social media posts, comments, and reviews mentioning your support. These tags and messages may be deleted by the company ownership, but they will be seen.
- Following Noble Knight Games United on the social media platform of your choice and boosting the signal.
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to make your opinion known to the owners. Visible public support helps protect union supporters from potential retribution.
Mission & Vision Statement: As a union, collectively bargaining with our employer gives us the power to make positive change in our workplace, and to secure the things we already love about it. We want Noble Knight Games to treat its workers with the same dignity and empathy with which we treat our customers. A business succeeds fully when the workers are treated and compensated fairly.
Communications Workers of America can help us in our endeavors to reduce employee turnover, utilize knowledgeable workers, obtain a living wage, and gain further agency over our labor; the labor which generates all of the wealth for the company.
What do Noble Knight Games United workers want to bargain for?
- Wages commensurate with the region’s cost of living and level of required expertise
- A healthier work-life balance, including limiting mandatory overtime
- Sick days and increased paid time off (Currently no sick days, and 40 hours PTO/year)
- More affordable benefits and coverage
- Fair and transparent policies, procedures, and hiring / promotion practices
- Maintaining appropriate, viable workplace conditions and expectations.