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To date, not a single major game developer in America has had a unionized work force of any kind. Only one indie studio of remote workers, called Vodeo Games, voted for a union last year, even though there are several unions and cooperatives in the game industry that exist in Canada and abroad.

The union at Raven Software was known as the Game Workers Alliance, and it marked an extraordinary union win for CWA, which has been working for years now to try to unite game studios and combat worker exploitation.

“Five months ago, we built the Game Workers Alliance-CWA on the principles of solidarity, sustainability, transparency, equity, and diversity. Activision Blizzard has worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we have persevered, ”GWA said in a statement.“ Now that we have won our election, it is our duty to protect these core values. where our union stands. Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers who organize video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values ​​and empower us all. We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract. “

The union in Raven was fueled by both layoffs in the QA department in December and by the ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination crisis by parent company Activision Blizzard. A California lawsuit filed last summer began a reckoning with the game publisher, leading to numerous other lawsuits, high levels of dismissal and resignation, management changes, employee protests and a growing union movement.

Earlier on Monday, the NLRB learned that Activision Blizzard had illegally threatened employees and violated their rights through intimidation and an overwhelming social media policy prohibiting them from discussing organizing labor, the lawsuit and other related matters. The NLRB plans to sue the company if it fails to settle the charges.

It’s been more than four months since quality assurance testers at Activision-owned Raven Software said they formed a union following a five-week strike to protest the layoffs. Since QA testers formed GWA in late January, Activision Blizzard has waged a lengthy campaign against the union in Raven.

Management divided the team and distributed members to various divisions in Raven, a tactic felt by GWA members designed to thwart organizing efforts. Activision Blizzard said in April that it would convert thousands of contractual workers to full-time and hand out pay increases, but it didn’t include Raven’s union members from the bump. Later that same month, the company tried to include all of Raven’s approximately 350 employees in the union vote; the NLRB struck the measure down, as well future appeals trying to stop the vote.

“Activision has done everything it can, including breaking the law, to try to prevent Raven QA workers from forming their union. It didn’t work, and we’re happy to accept them as members of the CWA,” Sara said. Steffens, the CWA secretary-treasurer, in a statement. “The quality assurance workers at Raven Software are bringing much-needed change to Activision and the video game industry. At this critical time for the company and its employees, these workers will soon have enforceable union contracts and voice at work. ”

An Activision Blizzard spokesman said the company was unhappy with the election results and reiterated management’s desire to include all of Raven’s employees in the vote. “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether to support or vote for a union or not. We believe that an important decision that will affect Raven Software’s entire studio of approximately 350 people should not be made by Raven’s 19 employees, ”the spokesperson said.

Update 5/24, 10AM ET: Includes a statement from Activision Blizzard.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not state the time period since Raven’s QA testers formed their union. This story was updated on May 23, 2022.


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