Quality assurance workers at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, a unionization push with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). The group, called Game Workers Alliance, is the first group of workers to form a unit under Activision Blizzard. Workers are asking the company to voluntarily recognize the union, which has the support of the “supermajority” of Raven Software QA workers — 78% of the eligible workers, a CWA representative told Polygon.
Some Raven Software QA workers have been on strike since early December, after Activision Blizzard denied new contracts for 12 members of the QA team. The strike of “several dozen workers,” according to the Washington Post, has no end date, and management has not yet responded to workers demands.
“Today, I am proud to join with a supermajority of my fellow workers to build our union, Game Workers Alliance (CWA),” Raven Software QA tester Becka Aigner said in a news release. “In the video game industry, specifically Raven QA, people are passionate about their jobs and the content they are creating. We want to make sure that the passion from these workers is accurately reflected in our workplace and the content we make. Our union is how our collective voices can be heard by leadership.”
According to the CWA, Activision Blizzard has not cooperated with worker-organizers. Instead, it’s “used surveillance and intimidation tactics, including hiring notorious union busters, to silence workers.”
“We ask that Activision Blizzard management respect Raven QA workers by voluntarily recognizing CWA’s representation without hesitation,” Communications Workers of America secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens said in a statement. “A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and making the company stronger. Voluntary recognition is the rational way forward.”
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard — including Raven Software. When the $68.7 billion deal is finalized in 2023, Activision Blizzard workers will report to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. Until the deal is approved, however, Bobby Kotick will remain as Activision Blizzard CEO, despite workers calling for his resignation in the wake of multiple lawsuits and federal investigations into the company’s workplace culture.
Update (Jan. 21): Activision Blizzard has issued a statement regarding Game Workers Alliance’s request for voluntarily recognition.
Activision Blizzard is carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which seeks to organize around three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees. While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities, we deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union.
Across Activision Blizzard, we remain focused on listening closely to our employees and providing the improved pay, benefits and professional opportunities needed to attract and retain the world’s best talent. Over the past couple of years, this has included raising minimum compensation for Raven QA employees by 41%, extending paid time off, expanding access to medical benefits for employees and significant others, and transitioning more than 60% of temporary Raven QA staff into full-time employees.
Update (Jan. 25): Activision Blizzard announced Tuesday that it will not voluntarily recognize Raven Software’s union. The company’s full statement is as follows:
At Activision Blizzard, we deeply respect the rights of all employees to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union. We carefully reviewed and considered the CWA initial request last week and tried to find a mutually acceptable solution with the CWA that would have led to an expedited election process. Unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement.
We expect that the union will be moving forward with the filing of a petition to the NLRB for an election. If filed, the company will respond formally to that petition promptly. The most important thing to the company is that each eligible employee has the opportunity to have their voice heard and their individual vote counted, and we think all employees at Raven should have a say in this decision.
Across the company, we believe that a direct relationship between managers and team members allows us to quickly respond and deliver the strongest results and opportunities for employees. As a result of these direct relationships, we’ve made a number of changes over the past couple years including raising minimum compensation for Raven QA employees by 41%, extending paid time off, expanding access to medical benefits for employees and their significant others, and transitioning more than 60% of temporary Raven QA staff into full-time employees. We look forward to continuing a direct dialogue with our team and working together to make our workplace better.