Activision Blizzard – Raven Software testers vote to form a union at Activision Blizzard

After months of struggle and despite hostility from Activision Blizzard, Raven Software’s QA department testers voted to form a union – the first in the US video game industry.

For several months now, testers from the studio’s Quality Assurance (QA) department raven Software (a subsidiary ofActivision Blizzard) are in conflict with their management and are campaigning for the creation of a union capable of defending their rights (as we mentioned). After several months of struggles and despite Activision Blizzard’s hostility to the project, Raven Software’s testers finally voted in favor of the creation of a union (19 votes against 3) and their vote was validated by the National Labor Relations Board American. The Game Workers Alliance (this is the name of the union) appears to be the first significant union created in the American video game industry.

And the vote was obtained after a hard fight. We remember that last December, twelve testers of Raven Software had been dismissed brutally. The thirty employees of the QA department then circulated a petition to denounce this “restructuring” and campaign for the creation of the famous union.

The initiative was obviously disliked by Raven Software and Activision Blizzard management, to the point of multiplying actions to hinder the creation of the union. Raven Software’s QA department was disbanded first, so as to distribute the testers among other studio departments (officially to implement a new way of testing the studio’s games, unofficially to separate employees who might to organize in a trade union). The studio then initiated an “information” campaign with its employees, emphasizing that the creation of a union would harm the competitiveness of the studio and therefore the level of compensation and employee bonuses (and we remember that Activision Blizzard established more than 1,100 testers in the group and increased their salaries, but not Raven’s). the National Labor Relations Board also denounced “unlawful threats” by management against supporters of the studio’s unionization – accusations that Jessica Taylor, spokesperson for Activision Blizzard, denies in the columns of the Washington Post.

Despite the obstacles, 22 of the 29 employees of the QA department of Raven Software nevertheless took part in the vote and at the end of a count organized by the National Labor Relations Board, 19 votes against three were expressed in favor of the creation of the union. In a press release, Activision Blizzard takes note of the result and affirms “to respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to unionize”, but nevertheless also indicates “believe that an important decision which will have consequences for the entire Raven Software studio and its approximately 350 employees should not be taken by 19 Raven employees”. And to conclude: “we are mobilized to do what is best for the studio and its employees”.
At the same time, the first representatives of the newly created Game Workers Alliance at Raven say they are determined to start negotiating with management and hope their example will inspire employees at many other studios in the video game industry in the United States.

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