Its legal options exhausted, Activision-Blizzard finally agrees to negotiate with union after half a year of clowning


As readers will recall, QA workers at Activision-Blizzard’s Raven Software have spent the last half a year organizing to form a union following the company’s multiple scandals, lawsuits, and layoffs. Activision-Blizzard spent that time attempting to delay, ignore, demean, threaten, and bust said fledgling union. Nevertheless, the workers were victorious, as the vote – at the end of May – resulted in the formal approval of that union, which would ensure that Activision-Blizzard is forced to negotiate contracts with its members.

Now, Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick has penned a press-released statement to the team, saying that now it will finally “recognize and begin negotiations” with the CWA. He says the company will now “engage in good faith” with the union, not that it really has any other choice at this point.

“I wanted to share the news that we will begin negotiations with the Communications Workers of America related to the 27 quality assurance employees at Raven Software, the majority of whom have chosen to be represented by this union. With the election having concluded, we will engage in good faith negotiations to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. While first labor contracts can take some time to complete, we will meet CWA leaders at the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that supports the success of all our employees, that further strengthens our commitment to create the industry’s best, most welcoming and inclusive workplace, and enhances our ability to deliver world class games for our players.”

However, Kotick follows up these statements by reminding the public that under pressure, ABK has improved pay conditions for QA and converted over a thousand temp workers to full-time. Of course, he does not mention that these moves were part of the company’s unionbusting efforts intended to discourage workers from signing on to the effort, nor does he mention that the organizing QA workers couldn’t benefit from any of that. Likewise, Kotick notes that the company has “integrated QA more seamlessly into the game development process” but omits that this was broadly seen as a unionbusting stunt meant to invalidate QA workers’ rights to unionize as a class, a right the company specifically challenged before the labor board.

So maybe reserve a bit of skepticism about “good faith” for now.

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.
Workers don’t seem to be fooled either.

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