Lulu Cheng Meservey has been on the job for less than a month and the Activision executive has already antagonized employees at the center of a long-overdue unionization push within the games industry. After over a dozen Blizzard quality assurance testers won the right to hold a union vote in November, Meservey warned staff via Slack that organizing could lead to lower raises and tough clashes with management. A screengrab of the comment reached Twitter, someone accused Meservey of pushing right-wing talking points, and she’s been posting through it ever since.
“We feel collective bargaining is comparatively slow—once agreement is in place takes over a year on average according to Bloomberg analysis,” argued Meservey in the company’s Slack on October 18, a screenshot of which was shared on Twitter by former Activision employee Jessica Gonzalez. “During the long contract negotiations, labor law forbids companies from giving any pay/bonus/benefit increases without a special arrangement with the union, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that non-union employees generally get larger pay raises than union-represented groups.”
The message came right after workers’ initial victory at Blizzard Albany. It was the company’s latest attempt to discourage any other workers from unionizing after losing its latest case with the National Labor Relations Board. As the Washington Post’s Shannon Liao reported, despite Meservey calling for “direct dialogue” with employees rather than through a union, most staff were prevented from directly commenting in the channel. So instead “she was met with negative emojis.”
“I can hear the booing from here!” Meservey responded according to Liao. “And have registered the disappointed dog emojis.”
But the boos persisted on social media as the interaction made the rounds on Twitter. “lol just found out that Substack’s right wing PR hack left to go union busting for Activision Blizzard,” digital media creator Matt Binder wrote in a quote-tweet of Liao’s report about the exchange.
“I’m curious what makes me right wing?” Meservey responded in a tweet that was quickly ratio’d. Binder shared his original quote tweet again, and Meservey went a second round, and was once again ratio’d.
“Which part is right wing?” she wrote. “Genuinely curious. Or do you mean that left wing is associated with unions, and so anything questions unions is therefore right wing?”
“Yes. Correct,” tweeted Defector co-founder Tom Ley.
Meservey was hired as Activision’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and chief communications officer barely two weeks ago. Prior to that, she did a short stint on the publisher’s board of directors on its workplace responsibility committee, a group formed in response to allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimation at the company, and just days after a Wall Street Journal article reported that CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of at least some of the issues around sexual misconduct.
The new executive has been known to tweet through it before, however. While still VP at Substack, the newsletter platform notorious for courting writers who have been canceled everywhere else, Meservey infamously tweeted that Twitter employees uncomfortable with Elon Musk’s plans for the platform need not apply. She later claimed that “context collapse” had led people to misinterpret the comment, and eventually downgraded it to a “light hearted poke” that was blown out of proportion.
But Meservey’s penchant for antagonizing prospective employees on social media possibly made her an ideal candidate for her new role at Activision. The job partially replaced the departing Frances Townsend, a Bush-era torture apologist who tweeted an anti-whistle blower article in the middle of Activision Blizzard employee walkouts over an internal email she sent that was dismissive of the sexual misconduct allegations against the company. The email was later discovered to have actually been drafted by Kotick, but in the meantime Townsend came under fire, started blocking employees on Twitter, and eventually ended up temporarily nuking her entire account.
Time will tell if a similar fate awaits Meservey. In-between promoting Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s upcoming early access launch she took a moment today to correct someone on the company’s market cap. “It’s very funny to be an executive at a 50 billion dollar company and say you’re ‘genuinely curious’ if there’s something political about opposing unionization,” someone wrote to her on Twitter. “We’re closer to 60 billion dollars,” she wrote back. That number is still $10 billion lower than Activision’s value before it was hit with an historic sexual harassment lawsuit.
When asked for comment on the situation, Activision spokesperson Rich George provided the following general statement about debates within the company:
Both the union and the company are allowed to share their perspectives on the pros and cons of unionization. We deeply respect the right of every eligible employee to decide whether to join a union and have their vote counted, which is why we have consistently believed that a small minority of employees shouldn’t get to choose on behalf of all their colleagues.