Workers at Activision Blizzard subsidiary unionize

A small group of quality assurance staff at a game studio owned by Activision Blizzard has merged, marking the arrival of the first labor union at a major US game company.

Workers at Raven Software, a Wisconsin subsidiary of Activision, voted to form the Game Workers Alliance with Media Workers of America. 19 workers voted in favor of the union, with three voting against, the National Labor Relations Board said on Monday. Two additional challenge ballots are not counted, but do not change the outcome.

The union’s victory over the video game giant could be a foothold for other workers in the gaming industry looking to organize. Workers are increasingly critical of industry practices, including temporary contracts with little job security and grueling working conditions during weeks-long push to meet game deadlines. . North America saw its first form of video game alliance in late 2021 at Vodeo Games, an indie studio with about a dozen employees.

The vote comes during a transitional and tumultuous period at Activision Blizzard, with Microsoft announcing its intention to acquire the company for nearly $69 billion in January.

In recent years, Activision Blizzard has faced well-known allegations of sexual misconduct and unfair pay. The Santa Monica video game giant creates some of the most popular franchises in the industry, including “Call of Duty,” “Diablo,” and “World of Warcraft.” Raven Software, a subsidiary acquired in 1997, led the company’s “Call of Duty” development.

Raven Software workers quit in early December after several members of the quality assurance department were laid off at the end of their contracts. Between 70 and 75 workers from Raven and other Activision Blizzard divisions went on strike. The layoff lasted more than a month and culminated in workers announcing their intention to unionize in January.

Days after workers announced their intention to merge, Raven management announced plans on January 24 to break up the QA workers division and distribute them to other teams. Activision Blizzard then lobbied the NLRB to expand the pool of workers eligible to vote in union elections. The Media Foundation of America says expanding the pool of eligible voters is a strategy to dilute support for unions. The NLRB rejected Activision Blizzard’s petition in late April, allowing the election to continue.

Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor said in an emailed statement that “a significant decision that will affect the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 people will not be made by 19 Raven employees.” .

During the months-long coalition campaign, state officials have scrutinized the video game giant’s actions amid allegations that it engages in tactics of union sabotage.

U.S. labor council prosecutors determined Monday, hours before the vote count, that the company unlawfully threatened employees and enforced a violating social media policy collective action of workers.

Taylor denies the allegations.

“These allegations are untrue. Employees can and can speak freely about issues in the workplace without retaliation,” Taylor said in a statement. “Our social media policy explicitly states that it ‘does not restrict employees from engaging in the communication of information that is protected by law.’ ”

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-05-23/quality-assurance-union-at-activision-blizzard-subsidiary Workers at Activision Blizzard subsidiary unionize

Edmund DeMarche

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