In late April, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acted in favor of the organizing QA employees at one of Activision Blizzard’s studios, Raven Software. There, Activision Blizzard was not only accused of union-busting, but also fought to make every Raven Software employee eligible to vote in the election on whether to form a union for QA testers at Raven Studios. In response, the NLRB contended the 28-30 QA employees was enough of a bargaining power and only allowed the QA testers to vote for a QA workers’ union. The QA employees were mailed their ballots in the mail, will need to mail in their votes before May 20, and the election results will be held on May 23.
On April 27, in a last ditch effort, Activision Blizzard sent out emails to the unionizing employees containing a simple graphic: “Please Vote No”. While not illegal, it is most likely far too late for this email to change any voter’s mind, especially after all of the obstacles and hardships Activision Blizzard has put the QA workers through. For the union to become official, the QA workers need a supermajority of those who agree with forming a union, so at least 17 workers. According to the Washington Post, many of the organizing employees were disappointed with the anti-unionizing efforts of Activision Blizzard, but it did not sway them as they had all voted in favor of the union.
While Activision Blizzard has stated it will review legal actions against the formation of the union; however, it may prove to be futile. Not only has Microsoft, the company acquiring Activision Blizzard, stated that it would support either outcome, but Activision Blizzard is also already in about 20 other lawsuits. Therefore, Activision Blizzard may not have the time nor legal grounds to pursue against the Raven Software employees. Furthermore, Raven Software’s QA workers union efforts also have the support of local politicians, like Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). Overall, only time will tell, but it appears the gaming industry may change dramatically in the next upcoming weeks.