Tuesday January 31, 2023

Employees at Activision studio Raven Software formally organize union

Five weeks of strike action by QA testers at Raven Software (a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard) has ended. They have now formed one of the first unions within a AAA game publisher. The union, called the Game Workers Alliance (CWA), was formed in association to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a labor organization that represents telecommunications workers. In December, 12 QA workers were fired, prompting a walkout at Call of Duty’s support studio. Some members of Raven Software’s QA department have been on strike since then. A GoFundMe was created to help the striking members.
Brent Reel, a Raven QA lead, stated in a CWA press release that the Game Workers Alliance was formed because his colleagues and I wanted to be heard. The union is asking for official recognition from Activision Blizzard, the parent company, which failed to acknowledge a strike in recent SEC filings.
Activision Blizzard was also accused of union-busting activities. Executives urged workers to “consider the consequences” of signing union authorization cards. Treyarch, a Call of Duty developer, recently converted all contract employees into full-time positions. This raises questions about why Raven Software couldn’t do the same. The union was formed a week before the formal dismissal of laid-off workers, which was scheduled for January 28th.
Rich George, Activision Blizzard’s senior director of game communication, wrote to The Verge via email:
“Activision Blizzard is reviewing the request for voluntary recognition by the CWA. This request seeks to organize approximately three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees. We believe that the best way to build a workforce is to have a direct relationship with the company and its employees. However, we respect the rights of all employees to decide whether or not they want to join a union.
A Better ABK is an Activision Blizzard employee advocacy organization. It tweeted: “We are so incredibly excited to support our allies @WeAreGWA. Although it took months of careful planning and hard work to get us where we are today we couldn’t have done this without each other. We are grateful to everyone who has publicly supported our efforts. Please stay tuned. We are not finished.

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