The quality assurance testers at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard subsidiary, have officially voted for a union. Ballots were mailed this month and counted today at the National Labor Relations Board office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a final result of 19-3 in favor of forming a union.
Even though QA testers only count about 30 of Raven’s 200+ staff, it’s still a hell of a deal. It is the first union to form at a major North American game developer in an industry where stories from crunch, harassment, discrimination, and other instances of employee abuse have led to several landmark lawsuits and calls for greater employee protection. Raven Software was founded in 1990.
Today’s vote came as a result of a series of events that began in December 2021 when a dozen QA staff members learned about it Their contracts were not renewed although Call of Duty: Warzone became a massive hit, attracting over 100 million players. The QA team held a strike to protest the layoffs that have followed a nearly two-month strike and the formation of the Alliance of Game Workers in January of this year.
Activision Blizzard naturally fought the QA team’s efforts to unionize by first failing to voluntarily recognize the union and then challenging the union application. But the NLRB ruled last month that Raven’s QA team, made up of both full-time and part-time employees, could go ahead with a vote to unionize even though it doesn’t represent a majority of Raven Software workers.
Winning the union election isn’t the end of the story – in a way, it’s just the beginning. There is still the typically long and drawn out process of contract negotiations. “Now that the battle for recognition is over, we can focus on negotiations,” said Becka Aigner, Raven Software’s QA tester (per The Washington Post). “We will fight for respect, fight for better wages, better benefits, better work-life balance, fight for sustainability and job security, and continue to fight in solidarity for our colleagues.”
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