Raven Software QA developers under Activision Blizzard unionize [Update]

Update Jan. 21: Activision Blizzard management has responded, stating that it is “carefully considering” the application for voluntary recognition.

QA developers at Raven Software, a studio acquired by Activision in 1997, worked with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the ABetterABK ABK Workers Alliance to develop plans for the Game Workers Alliance (GWA) union. As reported by Polygonthe GWA represents the first time workers have formed a unit, with 78% of QA workers at Raven Software supporting the union according to a CWA representative.

Notably, several Raven Software QA developers have been on strike since December after Activision Blizzard denied new contracts to 12 QA team members. According to a report by The Washington Postthe strike has no end date in sight and the demands of the developers have not been met.

In a press release, Raven Software QA tester Becka Aigner said, “Today I’m proud to join a super majority of my colleagues in building our union, Game Workers Alliance (CWA In the video game industry, especially Raven QA, people are passionate about their work and the content they create. We want to make sure that the passion of these workers is accurately reflected in our workplace and the content we create. Our union is how our collective voices can be heard by management.”

Source: Activision Blizzard Raven Software is currently working on Call of Duty projects like Call of Duty: Warzone.

According to the CWA, Activision Blizzard did not cooperate with the workers. There have been reports that the parent company has used “surveillance and intimidation tactics”, which include hiring “notorious union busters to silence workers”. In response, the CWA contacted Activision Blizzard to encourage cooperation with the GWA so that the union could be officially recognized.

“We ask Activision Blizzard management to respect Raven QA workers by voluntarily acknowledging CWA representation without hesitation,” Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens said. “A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and making the company stronger. Voluntary recognition is the rational way forward.” Raven developers plan to file a candidacy for union elections through the National Labor Relations Board if management does not respond by the end of January 25, Pacific Time.

This news follows the recent bombshell that Microsoft plans to buy Activision Blizzard for Xbox, which would include Raven Software along with all other Activision Blizzard subsidiaries. If the deal closes in 2023, the developers will report to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. Until then, Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, despite widespread calls for his resignation from workers and the media.

January 21 Update — Activision Blizzard Responds

In a statement released to various media outlets, Activision Blizzard responded by saying it was “carefully considering” Raven Software’s request for voluntary union recognition by the CWA. The company’s full statement is below.

“Activision Blizzard is carefully considering the application for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which seeks to organize about three dozen of the company’s approximately 10,000 employees. While we believe a direct relationship between the company and its team members offers the best labor opportunities, we deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union.

At Activision Blizzard, we remain focused on listening carefully to our employees and improving the salaries, benefits and career opportunities necessary to attract and retain the best talent in the world. Over the past two years, this has included increasing minimum pay for Raven QA employees by 41%, extending paid vacations, expanding access to medical benefits for employees and loved ones, and Transitioning over 60% of Raven QA temporary staff to full-fledged roles. -time employees.”

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