Activision Blizzard has recently announced that part-time, contract-based quality assurance (QA) workers will be transitioned into full-time employees. With this bump, 1,100 QA workers will now be able to receive company bonuses, employer benefits, and an increase of minimum pay to at least $20 per hour. This move comes after one of Activision Blizzard’s studios, Raven Software, not only experienced layoffs of QA workers, but also the forming of a worker’s union. While Activision Blizzard claims this announcement is not related to the Raven software union, Game Workers Alliance; however, Activision Blizzard is currently not upgrading QA workers that are in the union.
As for not upgrading union workers, Activision Blizzard told Polygon, “Due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, we cannot institute new pay initiatives at Raven at this time, because they would be new kinds of compensation changes.” As for the law cited, Labor Board v. Exchange Parts Co., 375 U.S. 405 (1964), Activision Blizzard states, “employers could violate the National Labor Relations Act if they confer economic benefits on its employees for the purpose of inducing them to vote against the union.” However, an Activision Blizzard representative also told gamingindustry.biz that the new announcement “does not have any relation to the petition pending at Raven studio. The Raven situation is limited to Raven.”
Sara Steffens, Communications Workers of America secretary-treasurer, issued this statement regarding the QA employee upgrade:
Make no mistake, all credit for Activision Blizzard’s latest move to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time employment and a raise should go to the workers who have been organizing, mobilizing and speaking out.
It’s especially galling then that Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits. The company’s assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their effort to form a union (Game Workers Alliance – CWA). Activision’s disingenuous announcement is further evidence of the need for workers to have a protected voice on the job. We strongly urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and respect Raven QA workers’ protected right to organize under the law.