Activision Blizzard call-of-duty workers vote to form union, second for video game industry

A small group of Activision Blizzard workers voted to unionize at a studio working on the popular “Call of Duty” franchise, the second win in an attempt to organize the video game industry.

Raven Software Quality Assurance employees in Middleton, Wisconsin, voted 19 to 3 to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA), according to a count Monday by the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The union has yet to negotiate and reach an agreement on a deal with Activision. The vote does not need to be reconfirmed if Microsoft goes through with its plan to acquire Activision, according to the CWA.

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to choose whether to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 employees should not be made by 19 Raven employees,” Activision said in a statement after the vote.

Wisconsin is a right to work, meaning any worker can choose not to be a union member.

Activision employees speak out after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. They left in protest at the company’s response to the allegations and firings of quality assurance testers. Employees have circulated a petition calling for the removal of Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick.

In the broader market, workers are also becoming more vocal and active for better wages and working conditions.

“Employees in this sector tend to be overworked, underpaid and treated as disposable items, which probably contradicts the public image people have of tech workers,” said John Logan, a professor of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, adding as many believe the only way to gain respect is to unionize.

In December, Vodeo became the first video game studio in North America to employ workers to ensure union representation.

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, recently voted to form a union, and workers at an Apple store in Atlanta petitioned for a union election.

Workers at more than 58 US Starbucks coffee shops have chosen to join Workers United, while at least four of more than approximately 262 stores that have attempted to hold elections since last August have voted against the union.

“There’s certainly a lot of energy and optimism right now, especially among young workers,” Logan said.

In Wisconsin, organizers called for a healthier work environment with realistic development schedules, decent compensation and career advancement opportunities in an industry where quality assurance is undervalued, according to the organizers’ official Twitter account.

24 out of 28 eligible voters voted. There were two contested ballots, insufficient to change the outcome of the vote.

“Other workers in the video game industry will be amazed and inspired by the success of Raven Software workers in forming their union. We call on Activision to respect their decision and commit to fair collective bargaining agreements,” CWA communications director Beth Allen said in a statement before the vote.

US Labor Court Judge Orders Activision Studio Union VoteANALYSIS – Microsoft Faces Challenge to Clean Up Activision Blizzard’s Corporate Culture.

© Thomson Reuters 2022 Activision Blizzard call-of-duty workers vote to form union, second for video game industry

Ryan Sederquist

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