Raven Software QA votes to form union in spite of months of Activision-Blizzard unionbusting


Last December, Activision-Blizzard decided the best thing it could do in the middle of a massive sexual harassment and discrimination scandal that had provoked multiple lawsuits, federal investigations, stock dips, a hastily arranged merger behind the scenes, and intense media scrutiny was to lay off a bunch of workers at one of its subsidiaries, Raven Software, including some workers who had just been relocated to Wisconsin for the job. The remaining QA workers went on strike and have spent the last half year organizing to form a union – one that Activision-Blizzard has fought tooth and nail to prevent with overt unionbusting that allegedly continued with more threats into this very week.

Well, too bad for Activision-Blizzard because the QA group voted today in favor of forming the union – a first in the US gaming industry. According to The Washington Post, the vote was 19 to 3 with 3 additional “challenged ballots”; the National Labor Relations Board tallied the votes earlier today. Activision-Blizzard is now forced to negotiate a contract with those workers. Interestingly, WAPO notes that “[s]ince the 12 QA testers were let go in December, Activision hired nine testers who are now eligible to vote” – which required “some scrambling on the potential union’s part to recruit the new hires.”

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union,” Activision-Blizzard told WAPO, and then it immediately contradicted that statement: “We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 of Raven employees. We’re committed to doing what’s best for the studio and our employees.”

Regardless of Activision-Blizzard’s union-busting attempts, this is a big deal for the games industry in general and QA testers in specific. “What’s even more exciting than what this means for us at Raven is the precedent this sets for the game industry,” WAPO quotes one tester saying. “Quality assurance testers being underpaid and exploited is the standard and with unions we can change that. I hope that ours is the first union of many for QA workers and I’m really looking forward to seeing which studio is next.”

Source: WAPO
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