Activision Blizzard won’t voluntarily recognize the historic Raven Software QA union

The first union at a major U.S. gaming company was formed last week by quality assurance testers. The gaming giant announced last night that it will not recognize this union.

The National Labor Relations Board must approve a petition to hold a union election for the newly formed Game Workers Alliance. The union responded to the news with a statement.

We, the supermajority of workers at Raven QA, are proud to be confidently filing our petition with the NLRB for our union election. We are deeply disappointed that Raven Software and Activision Blizzard refused to uplift workers rights by choosing to not voluntarily recognize our union in spite of our supermajority support.

This was an opportunity for Activision Blizzard to show a real commitment setting new and improved standards for workers. Instead, Activision Blizzard has chosen to make a rushed restructuring announcement to try and hinder our right to organize. Once again, when management is given a choice, they always seem to take the low road.

However, 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.

The union is confident that they will win their election since they represent a majority of the quality assurance testers. Even though the employees formed a union to represent the 34 quality assurance testers, the company thinks all of them should have a say in the decision.

Raven Software testers at Activision Blizzard form the first union at a major US gaming company

The company said in an email that it believes a direct relationship between managers and team members allows them to quickly respond and deliver the strongest results and opportunities for employees. We are looking forward to working together to make our workplace better.

About a third of Raven Software's Quality Assurance testers had been on strike for five weeks, protesting the early dismissal of twelve contractors.

This was coming off of a five-week stretch of overtime. In that moment, we realized that our day-to-day work and our crucial role in the games industry were not being considered.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the working conditions of the thousands of people employed by the company. Bobby Kotick was aware of sexual harassment and rape allegations at his company, but he did not act. The sexual harassment scandals at Kotick's company may not be over until after the Microsoft acquisition is complete.

Systemic issues don't end with one CEO. The state of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the company in July, accusing them of fostering a frat boy workplace culture.

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Unions can help workers protect their rights in a number of situations. The new Game Workers Alliance thinks that the tactics used by the company are against the workers who are exercising their right to organize.

They are sending a message to workers when Management uses meaningless buzzwords. This scrutiny is even more important when a company impedes its workers from exercising their rights.

The move has been under consideration for months, according to the publisher.

In November, the studio began to transition Quality Assurance teams to work alongside the other teams within the studio. 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, according to the company. It's a milestone in our plan to integrate quality assurance more into the development process as our teams strive to deliver best in class coordination in live service operations.

The news of the pending Microsoft acquisition doesn't change the desire of workers to build a safer workplace, according to Rongstad. Microsoft historically has not been welcoming of worker unions, so how this historic move to unionize will shake out is up in the air. The Game Workers Alliance would be the second recognized North American gaming union if the election goes through.

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