Thirty-four quality assurance testers at Raven Software, the Activision Blizzard studio responsible for the popular battle royale, Call of Duty: Warzone, announced today that they are unionizing after weeks of strike action due to recently announced layoffs in their department. Calling themselves the Game Workers Alliance, they are asking the publisher, which recently announced a historic sale to Microsoft, to voluntarily recognize the union.
“Today, I am proud to join the vast majority of my co-workers in building our Game Workers Alliance (CWA),” Becca Aigner, Functional Tester II at Raven, said in a press release. “In the video game industry, especially in 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 in the content we make. Our alliance is how our collective voices can be heard by leadership.”
The Game Workers Alliance was formed with the support of Communications Workers of America’s Digital Worker Organizing Campaign. It is currently supported by 78% of eligible workers, a CWA spokesman said. said Polygon. QA testers have historically overworked and underpaid at Activision Blizzardlike most gaming companies. Game Workers Alliance handed over control The 25th of January voluntarily recognize the union before it applies for participation in elections to the National Labor Control Board.
“We ask Activision Blizzard management to treat Raven’s Quality Assurance staff with respect by voluntarily and without hesitation in acknowledging CWA representation,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sarah Steffens said in a press release. “The Collective Bargaining Agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improve the games they make and make the company stronger. Voluntary recognition is the rational way forward.”
This was announced by the representative of Activision Blizzard. Kotaku in the email, the company is “carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which is seeking to organize about three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees.”
Read more: Indie studio forms first video game union in the country
Game Workers Alliance Formation Coming in Seven Weeks in a strike that began on December 6, shortly after Activision Blizzard’s management announced they were laying off 12 testers from Raven Software’s QA department at the end of January 2022, rather than moving them full-time. This is the third stop since a California lawsuit last summer alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against a publisher. Workers raised over $350,000 for a strike fund to support his efforts. Meanwhile the fans war zone other Call of Duty games faced a growing number of bugs and performance issues while management reportedly refused to meet with the striking workers to discuss their demands.
Around the same time that the strike began, Activision Blizzard’s chief administrative officer, Brian Bulatao, sent an email throughout the company in an attempt to discourage employees from unionizing. “[We] believe direct dialogue between management and employees is essential to the success of Activision Blizzard,” he wrote at the time.
Raven QA follows the announcement of Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, due to close no later than mid-2023. In recent SEC filings as part of the sale, the publisher claimed that the company was not currently on strike.
asked in interview yesterday What he thinks about organizing workers, the future head of Activision Blizzard, current CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer, said he knows little about labor unions. “I will say that we will have conversations about what enables them to do their best work, which, as you can imagine in the creative industry, is the most important thing for us,” he said. Washington Post.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: 01/21/22 12:48 pm ET: Added timeline for when GWA will seek NLRB vote.