Soon after the acquisition by Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), a set of Activision Blizzard workers have announced that they are forming a union. The group has asked the company to formally recognize the union.
The 34-person unit that works at the Raven Software studio is quality assurance testers for Call of Duty: Warzone. They have the support of 78% of the eligible workers to form the union which is going to be a part of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). The name of the group is The Game Workers Alliance. The company is requested to reply to the application by January 25.
“We ask that Activision Blizzard management respect Raven QA workers by voluntarily recognizing CWA’s representation without hesitation. A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and making the company stronger. Voluntary recognition is the rational way forward,” said CWA secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens.
The unionization stems from a 12-person layoff that took place back in December 2021. Around 60 QA testers at the company went on strike. The workers have asked the company to make all the contracted testers into employees to guarantee proper treatment from the company but AB leadership has not met with the people who went on strike. This has resulted in an increasing number of bugs in the COD game as the testers are not at work.
The company told Polygon, “Activision Blizzard is carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which seeks to organize around three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees. While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities, we deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union.”
The company has also said that in the last few years, it has converted 60% of the contractors into employees whereas the pay has also gone up 41%. But the GWA claims that the company promotes “crunch” which is a common term in the game developers’ community where the company allows the employees less time to develop the projects. “Shortened development timelines sacrifice project quality and damage the mental and physical health of our team,” tweeted the GWA.
Microsoft’s CEO of gaming, Phil Spencer said, “So I’m not going to try to come across as an expert on this, but I’ll say we’ll be having conversations about what empowers them to do their best work, which as you can imagine in a creative industry, is the most important thing for us.”
Activision has purposefully not recognized the union as seen through its SEC filing on Wednesday. “To the knowledge of the company, there are no pending activities or proceedings of any labor union, trade union, works council or any similar labor organization to organize any employees of the company or any of its subsidiaries with regard to their employment with the company or any of its subsidiaries,” said the company in the filing.
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