Activision-Blizzard promotes over a thousand QA testers and bumps their pay – but not the ones unionizing

Plays well with others.

Last night, Activision-Blizzard announced that it is converting 1100 quality assurance testers from contract work to full-time with pay starting at a minimum of $20 an hour. The decision is bittersweet as these figures explicitly exclude QA workers at Raven Software, who are in the process of unionizing following Activision’s mistreatment and layoffs at the end of 2021.

“For nearly a year, ABK Workers Alliance has advocated for our Quality Assurance employees and raised awareness surrounding the issues they face,” the ABK Workers Alliance tweeted. “We are overjoyed to announce that today, ABK has declared that 1,100 Quality Assurance testers will be converted to full time employment and will receive a pay raise, effectively making their wages $20/hour. A year ago, we made a promise to make A Better ABK. Little by little, we are accomplishing that goal. This is the power of collective action. When you work with your co-workers for the betterment of your workplace, the impossible becomes possible.”

An attorney for the National Labor Relations Board told that compensation overhauls in the middle of unionization is complicated as granting raises to unionizing employees could be deemed as influencing workers, but withholding raises could be seen as retaliatory. Indeed, Activision-Blizzard insists that “[d]ue to [its] legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, [it is] prohibited from making new kinds of compensation changes at Raven at this time.”

In giving the credit to organizers, CODE-CWA and the Game Workers Alliance blasted Activision-Blizzard, which has already been employing overt unionbusting tactics against its workers for almost a year now, such that it’s not a stretch to see this as more. Here’s the GWA’s statement:

“[Activision-Blizzard’s] decision to exclude us – the workers of @WeAreGWA – is their attempt to divide workers & undermine our right to unionize. It is unsurprising, but nevertheless disappointing that Activision has chosen to exclude Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront demanding better pay & benefits, from the company-wide wage increase. The company’s assertion that the NLRA prevents @Activision from including Raven QA workers is simply a ploy to punish us for choosing to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow workers as @WeAreGWA. Activision’s announcement is further evidence of the need for ALL workers at Activision Blizzard to have a protected voice on the job. We strongly urge @ATVI_AB to rectify this situation & respect our protected right to organize under the law.”

Source: Bloomberg, Cheers, Raf!
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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