Recently, many reports have surfaced that accuse Activision Blizzard of fostering a culture of toxic working conditions and sexual harassment. When a dozen quality assurance (QA) workers were denied contracts at Raven Software — one of the teams behind Call of Duty: Warzone — several dozen workers went on strike in protest.
In an effort to feel secure about their positions, the QA workers have been trying to form a union with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) at Raven Software. However, the prospective union says that parent company Activision Blizzard hasn't been cooperating and is using "surveillance and intimidation tactics" to destroy the initiative.
Activision last night said it would not recognize the QA union at Raven Software, setting the stage for an ugly labor battle. Activision will argue that all 300+ Raven employees should vote, not the group of 34 QA testers who are seeking a union. https://t.co/1cIdqdZjkH— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 26, 2022
Activision Blizzard claimed that it was pondering whether it should recognize the union, but last night, decided against it. The company issued the following statement to the press.
At Activision Blizzard, we deeply respect the rights of all employees to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union. We carefully reviewed and considered the CWA initial request last week and tried to find a mutually acceptable solution with the CWA that would have led to an expedited election process. Unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement.
This means that the United States government's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will probably get involved. The QA workers will have to go through the NLRB to set up their union. However, Activision Blizzard seems to be prepared for that and boasted about the changes it's made over the years.
We expect that the union will be moving forward with the filing of a petition to the NLRB for an election. If filed, the company will respond formally to that petition promptly ... As a result of ... direct relationships, we've made a number of changes over the past couple years including raising minimum compensation for Raven QA employees ... extending paid time off, expanding access to medical benefits ... and transitioning ... temporary Raven QA staff into full-time employees.
While these changes look great on paper, more needs to be done. There's still a substantial divide between the bonuses — worth millions of dollars — Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick gets compared to the average QA employee trying to support themselves and their families.
Hopefully, the QA workers will be able to form a labor union and it'll help them feel more secure in their roles within Activision Blizzard. It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts since it's acquiring the company for a staggering $68.7 billion. Will it be in favor of this union or will that be another confrontation? Only time will tell. The deal is expected to go through sometime in late 2022 or early 2023.