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Reggie Fils-Aimé on contractor woes: ‘This isn’t the Nintendo I left’

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Former Nintendo of America president and chief operating officer Reggie Fils-Aimé told The Washington Post he was taken aback by reports of union-busting activity at Nintendo.

“It struck me, this isn’t the Nintendo I left,” Fils-Aimé said.

After a labor complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board first covered by Axios, further reporting by Kotaku cited former contractors saying conditions at Nintendo of America included poor pay and mandatory two-month breaks to keep workers on recurring 11 month contracts. Contractors at the company felt like “second-class workers,” according to Kotaku’s report.

Fils-Aimé said he didn’t recognize the incidents in the reports — or the company named in them.

“While I was at Nintendo, we routinely had meetings at events where our associates, that’s how we referred to our contract employees, were invited,” Fils-Aimé continued. “It’s just a small example. I was famous for doing bimonthly and quarterly lunches with employees. It was a basic sign-up, and associates were invited as much as full-time employees.”

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Fils-Aimé declined to comment further on specific events, but said his core focus as an executive was maintaining a “healthy culture.”

“I know I was able to achieve that, and certainly what’s being described does not seem like a healthy culture,” he said.

Fils-Aimé said this during an interview with The Post about his new business memoir, “Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo.” In the book, he dispenses tales of his career through corporate America and shares lessons learned along the way.

A wave of unionization is currently sweeping across the United States. Amazon workers struck a historic vote to organize last month in Staten Island. And workers in video game studios have begun to organize, notably quality assurance employees at Raven Software, who were recently given the green light to participate in a union election.

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When asked what advice Fils-Aimé would give to executives navigating this current reality, he said people must remember that workers are a company’s most important resource.

“All of the things that are part of a job beyond salary, you need to look at all those elements and have a mentality of doing the right thing for your employees,” he said. “I fundamentally do believe that if employees are being treated with respect and the work they do and the pay and benefits they receive are in balance, the need for unionization isn’t there.”

For executives working with unions today, Fils-Aimé said they should “work in partnership with the union to do the best thing for employees, as well as make sure that it’s also in the best interests of the company.”

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