Recently, the latest strike against Activision Blizzard ended after the 34 Quality Assurance workers agreed to form a union called Game Workers Alliance. Now, the union will continue to move forward without recognition from Activision Blizzard. The workers have a supermajority of votes within their department which allows them to form the union via the National Labor Relations Board without management recognition at Activision Blizzard. If the Game Workers Alliance wins 50% plus one of the votes within the department, Activision Blizzard must begin bargaining with the group over work conditions in good faith.
The CWA and Game Workers Alliance released a joint statement confirming that they will continue with plans to unionize without recognition from Activision Blizzard. “We are proud to file with the NLRB as we enjoy supermajority support for our union and know that together, we will gain the formal legal recognition we have earned.”
Activision Blizzard released a statement of its own. The reason that they won’t recognize GWA is that they believe that “all employees at Raven should have a say in this decision.”
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.
Following the announcement of the formation of the Game Workers Alliance, Activision Blizzard announced that they would be reorganizing the QA department by embedding the workers into different departments. Activision Blizzard said “Today, Raven Software shared an organizational update that continues the work the studio began in November which will transition Quality Assurance teams to work directly alongside Animation, Art, Design, Audio, Production and Engineering teams within Raven. This change will enhance the collaborative work our teams do to support our games and players and make the opportunities for our talented QA staff even stronger. This is the next step in a process that has been carefully considered and in the works for some time, and this structure brings Raven into alignment with the best practices of other prominent Activision studios. It is also a milestone in our broader plan to integrate QA more into the development process as our teams strive to deliver best-in-class coordination in real-time, live service operations.
CWA organizing director Tom Smith said that the move is “nothing more than a tactic to thwart Raven QA workers who are exercising their rights to organize. When Management uses meaningless buzzwords like ‘alignment, ‘synergy,’ and ‘reorganization,’ they are sending a message to workers: ‘we make all the decisions, we have all the power,’” he said. “Workers organize to have a voice at work to rectify these power imbalances. This is why big tech mergers that could increase and further concentrate corporate power, like Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition, deserve real oversight. This scrutiny is even more important when a company like Activision Blizzard impedes its workers from exercising rights that are protected under U.S. law.”