The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that Raven Software quality assurance workers can participate in a union election, which begins April 29.
Raven’s full-time and part-time quality assurance officers are seeking to form a union called the Game Workers Alliance and filed a petition with the NLRB after parent company Activision Blizzard failed to voluntarily recognize the union. Activision Blizzard then challenged the filing, saying a union at Raven Software should include all of the studio’s 230 employees and not just the current 21 members of the quality assurance team.
The NLRB dismissed Activision Blizzard’s argument, noting that Raven’s QA team is an appropriate bargaining unit and observing that QA testers “generally earn less than all of Raven Studio’s other classifications”. Ballots will be mailed to eligible employees on April 29, after which they will have until May 20 to return it. A vote count will take place by videoconference on May 23. If the union vote is successful, the Game Workers Alliance will become the first union at a North American AAA game development studio.
A union vote at the Call of Duty-focused studio is the latest chapter in a months-long saga that has seen Activision Blizzard employees walk off the job in protest and Raven QA members embark on a labor strike. a week in response to the company’s dismissal. 12 contractors. These contractors were terminated at the same time as Raven promoted other QA contractors to full-time employees. Once it became clear that QA team members intended to unionize, Raven announced structural changes to integrate QA team members into other Raven teams. While Raven’s management said this was done in the interest of more efficient game development, critics saw it as a way to potentially undermine the QA team’s unionization efforts.
In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said the company is “disappointed that a decision that could significantly impact the future of our entire studio is being made by less than 10 % of our employees”. The spokesperson said the company will review potential legal options in response to the NLRB’s decision.
The Raven Software QA team’s labor campaign began shortly after Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, which itself came as Activision Blizzard swooped in. is found mired in controversy following multiple lawsuits and investigations into sexual harassment and discrimination. Microsoft said it would not object if Activision Blizzard chose to recognize a union, stating that “Microsoft respects the right of Activision Blizzard employees to choose to be represented by a labor organization and we will honor those decisions”.
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