‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ QA Workers Vote to Unionize

QA workers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software studio have voted to unionize, becoming the first group to do so at a major North American game publisher. The National Labor Relations Board counted the ballots on Monday: 19 workers voted for the union and three voted against it. Two votes were contested, although they were not enough to affect the result. There were 28 eligible voters and no spoiled ballots.

In December, 60 workers (including contractors and full-time employees) at the Call of Duty support studio went on strike after 12 QA testers were fired. They demanded that the company rehire these workers. The strike ended the following month, but not before QA workers announced their plans to unionize with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). Once they got back to work, Raven divided them between various departments, in an apparent attempt to hinder their unionization efforts.

The workers asked Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognize their union, which they called the Game Workers Alliance. However, the company refused to do so. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board gave workers the green light to hold union elections.

“Activision went to great lengths, including breaking the law, to try to prevent Raven QA workers from forming their union. It didn’t work out, and we are delighted to welcome them as CWA members,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens said in a statement. “Raven Software’s QA workers are bringing much-needed change to Activision and the video game industry. At this critical time for the company and its employees, these workers will soon have an enforceable union contract and a voice on the job.”

Activision Blizzard has been accused of busting unions. Last July, he hired the WilmerHale law firm, which has allegedly been involved in efforts to crack down on union drives at Amazon and other companies, to review its human resources policies. He also shared anti-union messages on the company’s Slack channels.

In April, Activision Blizzard said it was hiring 1,100 full-time QA workers, raising their pay in many cases and providing benefits. However, he claimed that Raven QA workers were ineligible “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Earlier on Monday, the NRLB found that Activision Blizzard violated the National Labor Relations Act. He claimed the company threatened employees who tried to organize and imposed an “overly broad social media policy.”

Microsoft will buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, pending regulatory approval. Microsoft has said it “will not stand in the way of Activision Blizzard recognizing a union.” the company said Axios in March that it “respects the right of Activision Blizzard employees to choose whether to be represented by a labor organization and we will honor those choices.”

In December, workers at independent studio Vodeo Workers formed the first video game union in the United States. management voluntarily recognized United Video Workers. Workers at studios outside of North America have also unionized, including at Paradox Interactive in Sweden and the Japanese-Korean publisher Nexon. Meanwhile, quality control workers at BioWare’s contractor Keywords Studios in Edmonton, Alberta, are trying to unionize.

Game Workers Alliance provided the following statement to Engadget:

Five months ago, we formed the Game Workers Alliance-CWA on the principles of solidarity, sustainability, transparency, fairness, and diversity. Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered. Now that we have won our election, it is our duty to protect these core values ​​that our union is built on. Our greatest hope is that our union will inspire the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to make better games and build workplaces that reflect our values ​​and empower us all. We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.

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