Following a protracted standoff with Activision Blizzard, QA staff at Call of Duty studio Raven Software have successfully voted to unionise.
The vote, which passed 19-3 and affected 28 developers in total, was supposed to be streamed live on Twitch, but ran into technical difficulties, leading the audio of the vote count itself to be made available via Twitter spaces.
The result means that the group, called the Game Workers Alliance, will now receive legal recognition from the US National Labor Relations Board, a key step in its efforts to secure a better contract for the Raven staff.
Raven Software QA Staff Vote to Unionise
In a statement to Kotaku, members of GWA said: “Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered,” adding: “Now that we’ve won our election, it is our duty to protect these foundational values on which our union stands.”
Speaking to the Washington Post, Becka Aigner, one of the QA testers involved in the vote, declared: "Now that the fight for recognition is through, we can focus our efforts on negotiations. We'll fight for respect, fight for better wages, better benefits, better work-life balance, fight for sustainability and job security, and continue to fight for our fellow workers in solidarity."
Reaction from Activision Blizzard to the news reflected the stance taken by the company throughout proceedings, with spokesperson Ron Talia telling Kotaku: “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union,”, but also adding: “We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”
The events surrounding this particular unionisation have occurred against a complicated backdrop, especially with regards to Activision Blizzard, which, following a 2021 headlined by a company-wide sexual harassment scandal and lawsuit, agreed in January to be acquired by Microsoft in a $68.7 Billion deal which is seemingly “moving fast” towards completion.
The historic vote also follows strike action by Raven employees in December 2021, which later led those workers to be excluded from a pay and status bump given to other Activision Blizzard employees by the publisher, in what many saw as an attempt by Activision Blizzard to halt the progress being made towards unionisation by groups like the GWA.
Activision Blizzard has until May 31 to appeal the decision of the vote.
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