Raven software testers at Activision Blizzard form first consortium at a major US gaming company – Meczyki.Net

Today, Raven Software’s quality assurance (QA) department — which works mostly on “Call of Duty” as part of Activision Blizzard — became the first consortium to be formed into a major American gaming company. With the help of Communications Workers of America (CWA), Raven Software Testers Launched Sports Workers Coalition, which plans to “focus on improving the conditions of workers in the video game industry, by making it a more sustainable, equitable place where transparency is paramount,” even beyond its own company. 34-worker unit It’s asking management to recognize their union during a time already marked by change: On Tuesday, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in one of the most priceless tech acquisitions of all time.

But on the heels of that historic acquisition, Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in controversy amid the ongoing SEC investigation and sexual harassment scandal, Internally, employees began to lay the groundwork for worker solidarity through groups such as ABK Workers Alliance, When Raven Software 12 contractors fired In early December, the team at the Wisconsin-based studio staged a walkout, which lasted five weeks and counting.

Raven Software QA tester Ona Rongstad told Meczyki.Net that the incident sparked discussions about unionizing.

“On December 3, almost a third of my department was informed that their contracts were going to expire early. And it was a five-week stretch of overtime, coming from constant work,” she said. “At that moment we realized that our day-to-day work and our important role as QA in the games industry were being ignored. And at that point, we took a strike to demonstrate this as Raven QA. We decided to start that we were not the only disposable part of the industry, and during that time, it became very clear that we had majority support within our department for a union.

ABK Workers Alliance used its massive social media following to Crowdfunding over $370,000 Help in getting salary during the strike. The CWA said the strike was the third at Activision Blizzard after suing the company over sexual harassment and misconduct claims in July 2021. Still, about 20 members of the department are on strike, Rongstad told Meczyki.Net.

“We’re not sure how long [the strike] Will continue as we have not had a direct communication with the leadership regarding our demand that the 12 persons who were released be reinstated, which is unfortunate. We have been able to go through our unionization and get voluntary recognition so that we can prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

Rongstad said news of the planned acquisition of Microsoft does not change the union’s plans to gain recognition.

“At the end of the day, we want to be able to work with leadership to create the most positive and beneficial work environment for all ABK workers, and we are happy to work with leadership, whether it is current leadership or future leadership.” under Microsoft leadership,” he told Meczyki.Net.

Despite the industry’s notoriety, this level of organizing among workers has little precedent in gaming. More Work employee or posting mass layoff The first gaming union to be voluntarily recognized at smaller indie studios in North America was formed due to studio closure but only a month earlier. video games, which produces “Beast Breaker”. The Vodio Association also works with the CWA.

In a statement emailed to Meczyki.Net, Activision Blizzard responded to the Game Workers Alliance announcement:

Activision Blizzard is carefully reviewing a request for voluntary accreditation from the CWA, which seeks to mobilize about three dozen of the company’s roughly 10,000 employees. While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members provides opportunities for the strongest workforce, we respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to unionize. to make decisions.

At Activision Blizzard, we focus on listening closely to our employees and providing the superior pay, benefits and professional opportunities needed to attract and retain the world’s best talent. Over the years, this has included raising the minimum compensation for Raven QA employees to 41%, expanding paid time off, expanding access to medical benefits for employees and significant others, and more than 60% of temporary Raven QA employees. involves converting it completely. Time staff.

It remains to be seen whether Activision Blizzard will voluntarily recognize the Game Workers Alliance. If Activision Blizzard chooses to recognize the union, they do not require union election and can initiate collective bargaining. If the company chooses not to recognize them, the union can conduct elections through the National Labor Relations Board.

“We have supremacy, and so we were able to ask for voluntary recognition. We are confident that if it goes to the vote, we will win,” Rongstad said. “We are hoping that they will voluntarily unionize and show our support for workers’ rights.”

The Game Workers Alliance is giving Activision Blizzard until January 25 to respond to their request for voluntary recognition. Read his letter below:

Update, 1/21/22, 3:00 PM ET with commentary from Activision Blizzard and a Raven Software QA tester.

Update, 1/21/22, 3:25 PM ET, with a letter from the Game Workers Alliance to Activision Blizzard.