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Quality Assurance Workers of Raven Software Ask Activision Blizzard to Recognize the Game Workers Alliance Union
21.01.2022 в 11:50
A group of 34 Quality Assurance workers from Raven Software have asked Activision Blizzard to formally recognize their formation of the
Game Workers Alliance
union, following five weeks of striking in response to twelve temporary workers being told their
contracts would not be renewed
last month. A press release by the
Communications Workers of America
announced the news, with the request that Activision Blizzard management voluntarily recognize their desire to unionize with the implication that the prerequisite 30% to hold a vote or 50% + 1 member majority has been reached, although in either case would only apply to that small subset of Quality Assurance employees rather than the entire 10,000 person staff.
Upon recognition, the group would become an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, which represents approximately 700,000 workers as the largest communications and media workers labor union in the United States and around 8,000 in Canada. This unionization would be a first for Activision Blizzard and only the second time that members of a video game development studio had successfully unionized within the United States, following the dozen employees of
independent game developer Vodeo Games
Communication's Workers of America
“Raven QA workers are taking an important next step toward improving their working conditions by joining together in a union, and we are excited to be supporting their efforts. We ask that Activision Blizzard management respect Raven QA workers by voluntarily recognizing CWA's representation without hesitation," said Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. "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.”
Blizzard first responded to the strike three days after the initial outcry, stating that some
500 temporary workers were being converted to full time employees
, but that 20 other contracts would not be extended. While this went a long way to quelling discontent from some, it did little to stop the walkout at Raven Software, as many considered it unfair that their employees were seemingly targeted by the majority of cuts without any performative reason. Activision leadership again responded to say that
Raven leadership was engaging in dialogue with its staff
to hear their concerns, and pointed out the extended notice and holiday pay given to affected workers, though several employees on social media disputed that any such dialogue had occurred.
Communication's Workers of America
“Today, I am proud to join with a supermajority of my fellow workers to build our union, Game Workers Alliance (CWA). In the video game industry, specifically Raven QA, people are passionate about their jobs and the content they are creating. We want to make sure that the passion from these workers is accurately reflected in our workplace and the content we make. Our union is how our collective voices can be heard by leadership,”
said Becka Aigner, QA functional tester II at Raven.
“We formed the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) because my colleagues and I want to have our voices heard and we want to see changes that reflect the wants and needs of both the gaming community and the workers who create these incredible products. It’s extremely important that workers have a real seat at the table to positively shape the company going forward,”
said Brent Reel, QA Lead at Raven.
As reported by
, Activision Blizzard is currently reviewing the request, and although Microsoft has not yet formalized their
acquisition of the company
and therefore has no official say in the matter, we can be certain that the matter is being discussed by the two companies as well. Given that only a small subset of employees are attempting to unionize, there may be extra specificities to be considered by the company as well as the NLRB, so it may take some time before a determination is made.
Activision Blizzard, via Bloomberg
A spokesman for Activision said the company is reviewing the request for recognition. “While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce 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,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Last month, the A Better ABK movement
increased efforts to unionize
by passing out union authorization cards in order to allow employees to demonstrate their intent in forming a union, though we have since heard little on the matter, suggesting that the effort had not yet garnered enough signatures to move forward. As a reminder, the law dictates that at least 30% of employees are required to show their intent (via cards or other signatures) in order to force a vote by the
National Labor Relations Board
, while a showing of more than 50% will allow the company to voluntarily recognize the union without voting.
The interesting part is when a subset of employees attempt to unionize, such as the case with Raven Software QA staff here. While not uncommon for specific shops or teams in bigger companies to have unions (or different unions from one another) while others do not, they are more often comprised of different disciplines - such as metal workers and electricians. While there's nothing preventing a specific group of employees such as QA from attempting to unionize on their own without the whole, the main difference is that a unions strength lies primarily within their numbers and that advantage is eroded in smaller groups, as it's much easier to dismiss and replace a few dozen workers than it is a few thousand.
This was evidenced in 2014, after a
38-person group of Microsoft bug testers organized
and the company chose to dismiss them rather than recognize and deal with the union, although it may be important to note that they were temporary contractors and the contract company led the dismissal rather than Microsoft itself. That said, if Raven Software's unionization effort goes through, it is entirely possible that this group may face the same fate.
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