- QA testers from Activision Blizzard's Raven Software vote to make a union
- This is the first worker’s union of a major US video games company
- Negotiations with Activision Blizzard were not easy and are still ongoing
Employees from CoD’s developer Raven Studios have almost unanimously voted to create the US's first major gaming company worker’s union.
QA Testers Form Union
Labor unions are created by employees to help them better negotiate things like working conditions, salaries, and other rules. And while they have existed in some form or another for many decades in many types of industries, they remain relatively uncommon in the videogame industry. However, things are changing and Raven Software’s employees have recently created the first labor union at a major US gaming company.
The unionization effort is being spearheaded by a group of Wisconsin-based quality assurance testers working at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software, the studio responsible for the development and updating of many Call of Duty titles. There was a vote that passed with 19 QA testers voting for the union and only three voting against, according to Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier.
The creation of any labor union within Activision Blizzard has a long and tough path behind it. This vote comes just a month after the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Raven QA testers, saying that the employees were eligible to vote for or against creating a union. Activision Blizzard did not want to recognize the union at first, saying all of the studio’s employees must be part of any potential union and not just QA testers. However, this reasoning was rejected after a petition from the Game Workers Alliance.
Creation of the Union Was Not Easy
The creation of this union signals the first time such an organization has been created in a major US gaming company. The so-called Game Workers Alliance comes a few months after many Raven Software employees protested against Blizzard’s layoffs the company made late last year. This reportedly happened after several of the laid-off QA testers were promised raises and restructuring.
The new union is also a signal that the company’s 10K+ employees worldwide are not that happy with the working conditions. Worker dissatisfaction has been rising ever since last summer Activision Blizzard was involved in a series of lawsuits about allegedly nourishing “frat-boy culture”, and the many sexual harassment scandals that happened after that.
Early this year, Microsoft announced that it’s buying Activision Blizzard for a whopping $69 billion. This did not settle down employees' protests and Microsoft subsequently announced it will not interfere in any unionization efforts.
Now that it’s finally formed, the Game Workers Alliance will move into contract negotiations with Activision Blizzard.