‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ quality assurance workers vote to unify

Quality assurance workers at Activision Blizzard studio Raven software voted to unify, becoming the first team to do so at a major North American game publisher. The National Labor Relations Board counted the votes on Monday – 19 workers voted in favor of the union and three voted against. Two ballots were challenged, although they were not sufficient to influence the outcome. There are 28 eligible voters and no blank ballots.

In December, 60 workers (including contractors and full-time employees) at Call of Duty support studio went on strike after it fired 12 QA testers. They asked the company to re-hire those workers. Strike ends next monthbut not before QA workers announced the plan merged with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Once they got back to work, Raven split them up between different departments, with the express purpose of making their merging efforts more difficult.

The workers have asked Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognize their union, which they call the Game Workers Union. However, the company has refused to do so. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board let the workers go first to hold a union election.

“Activision did everything it could, including breaking the law, to try to prevent Raven QA workers from forming their union. It has not been a success, and we are delighted to welcome them as members of the CWA,” said CWA secretary and treasurer Sara Steffens in a statement. “The quality assurance people at Raven Software 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 a valid union contract and a voice at work.”

Activision Blizzard has been charged with union sabotage. Last July, it hired the law firm WilmerHale, which has reported participate in efforts to eliminate union incentives at Amazon and other companies, to review its human resource policies. It also Anti-union messages shared in corporate Slack channels.

In April, Activision Blizzard speak they hired 1,100 full-time QA workers, increasing their salaries in many cases and providing benefits. However, it claimed Raven QA workers were ineligible “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Earlier on Monday, NRLB determined that Activision Blizzard violated the National Labor Relations Act. It claimed that the company threatened employees who sought to organize and imposed an ‘excessive social media policy’.

Activision Blizzard is being acquired by Microsoft for 68.7 billion dollars, pending regulatory approval. Microsoft has said that it “will not stand in the way if Activision Blizzard recognizes a union.” The company told 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 respect those decisions”.

In December, workers at indie studio Vodeo Worker formed the first video game union in America. Management voluntary recognition United Workers Vodeo. People working at studios outside of North America have also linked up, including at Paradox Interactive in Sweden and Japanese-Korean publisher Nexon. Meanwhile, QA employees at BioWare’s Keyword Studios contractor in Edmonton, Alberta are… try to merge.

The Game Workers Union provided the following statement to Engadget:

Five months ago, we founded the Game Workers Coalition-CWA on the principles of solidarity, sustainability, transparency, fairness and diversity. Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to sabotage our union efforts, but we persisted. Now that we have won our election, it is our duty to defend the fundamental values ​​on which our union stands. Our greatest hope is that our union serves as an inspiration to the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to make better games and build Build a workplace that reflects our values ​​and empowers 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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