Activision Blizzard's Raven Software Union Vote Passes 19-3
The vote to unionize quality assurance employees at Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software has passed! The National Labor Relations Board counted ballots via video conference today, in which 19 voted for and 3 against, making the
Game Workers Alliance
the second formally recognized video game union in the United States following the dozen employees of independent game developer
The road to unionization has been a tumultuous one, beginning with
a walk out after 12 QA worker contracts were not renewed
. Despite announcements that 500 part time workers would be converted to full time, Raven Software testers continued to strike for five weeks, ultimately
joining the Communications Workers of Amercia in seeking unionization
as the Game Workers Alliance. Predictably,
Activision Blizzard chose not to voluntarily recognize the union
, contesting whether ~30 individuals should be recognized as an appropriate bargaining unit as opposed to the entirety of the 300-something person studio, pushing the issue on to the National Labor Relations Board for formal vote. Today, we see the results of that vote.
This isn't to be the end of unionization struggles however, as the Department of Labor is also investigating Activision Blizzard for illegally threatening staff and enforcing a social media policy that conflicts with workers’ collective action rights. As
reported by Bloomberg
, Department of Labor prosecutors have determined there is enough evidence to issue a complaint, which will be considered by agency judges at a later time, though Activision Blizzard will most likely appeal any negative findings in federal court, with spokesperson Jessica Taylor saying "these allegations are false. Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates employees’ NLRA rights."
There's also some question as to what will happen to the union after Microsoft takes over, with expectations that their acquisition could be bad news for any budding unions. Like most big corporations, Microsoft also has a history of being somewhat anti-union, infamously
dismissing a group of 38 bug testers
, rather than deal with their unionization efforts in 2014. Although technically the company has no official say in the matter due to the sale not yet being finalized, Microsoft corporate vice president and general counsel Lisa Tanzi told the Washington Post in March that
Microsoft will not stand in the way
of unionization, but we will have to wait and see whether that belief remains after Microsoft formally takes control sometime over the next year.
Microsoft respects Activision Blizzard employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a labor organization and we will honor those decisions.
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