A small group of 28 quality assurance testers rebelled against Activision Blizzard and formed a group known as the Game Workers Alliance by winning a bid for a union Monday afternoon.
Over the past years, the reputation of game company Activision Blizzard has been tarnished after being faced with multiple lawsuits regarding sexual misconduct and fostering a toxic work environment when numerous employees’ step forth to expose them. Monday afternoon, quality assurance employees from Activision Blizzard’s subsidiary Raven Software decided that they had enough and voted to form the union Game Workers Alliance with the Communication Workers of America. The eligible employees at Raven Software mailed their ballots to vote in the election this month. The National Labor Relation Board counted the ballots, with a tally of 19 votes in favour of the union while 3 were against it, winning the vote.
“Five months ago, we formed the Game Workers Alliance-CWA on the principles of solidarity, sustainability, transparency, equity, and diversity. Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered. Now that we’ve won our election, it is our duty to protect these foundational values on which our union stands,” said members of Game Workers Alliance.
Where it all began.
Their push for unionization began in early December 2021 when Raven Software was subjected to a surprising number of layoffs, even after reportedly being promised a better pay rate. As a result, between 70-75 workers went on strike, lasting for about a month and culminated in workers announcing their intent to unionize in January. After a petition to unionize, Raven management separated the group and spread them out across multiple departments.
Before the voting period, management at Raven also attempted to coerce eligible workers into voting against the unionization, suggesting that their union might affect productivity, promotions and benefits. The next day, Raven sent emails to the eligible workers asking, “Please vote no,” which remained ineffective.
Hours before the votes, prosecutors within the National Labor Relation Board accused the company of illegally threatening staff and violating workers’ collective actions. Activision Blizzard’s spokesperson Jessica Taylor denied the charges, stating “These allegations are false. Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation,”
While Activision remains as a shady business, the Game Workers Alliance hopes to change the company’s policies, so other companies could learn from their actions. “Quality assurance workers at Raven Software are bringing much-needed change to Activision and to the video game industry. At this critical time for the company and its employees, these workers will soon have an enforceable union contract and a voice on the job.” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens.