Call of Duty workers at Activision Blizzard vote to form union, second for video game industry
A small group of Activision Blizzard employees have voted to unionize at a studio that works on the popular “Call of Duty” franchise, the second victory in a video game industry organizing campaign.
Employees of Raven Software’s quality assurance department in Middleton, Wisconsin, voted 19 to 3 to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA), according to a tally by officials from the U.S. National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) on Monday. .
The union has yet to negotiate and come to an agreement on a contract with Activision. The vote will not have to be recertified if Microsoft is successful in its proposed acquisition of Activision, according to the CWA.
“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 impact the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees,” Activision said in a statement after the vote.
Wisconsin is a right-to-work state, which means any worker can opt out of a union.
Employees are speaking out at Activision following multiple accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct. They came out to protest the company’s response to the allegations and the firing of quality assurance testers. Employees circulated a petition calling for the removal of General Manager Bobby Kotick.
In the broader marketplace, workers are also increasingly speaking out and pushing for better pay and working conditions.
“Employees in this industry tend to be overworked and underpaid and treated as disposable, which likely goes against the public image that people have of tech workers,” said John Logan, professor in Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, adding that many believe the only way to gain respect is to join a union.
In December, Vodeo became the first video game studio in North America with workers to gain union representation.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, recently voted to unionize and workers at an Apple store in Atlanta filed a petition for a union election.
Workers at more than 58 Starbucks coffee shops across the United States have chosen to join Workers United, while at least four stores have voted against the union, out of more than an estimated 262 who have sought to hold elections since last August.
“There’s definitely a tremendous amount of energy and optimism, especially among younger workers right now,” Logan said.
In Wisconsin, organizers called for a healthier work environment with realistic development timelines, appropriate compensation and career development opportunities in an industry where quality assurance is undervalued, according to the official Twitter account. organizers.
The number of ballots received was 24 out of 28 eligible voters. There were two contested ballots, which is not enough to change the outcome of the vote.
“Other video game industry workers will be thrilled and inspired by the success of Raven Software workers in forming their union. We urge Activision to respect their decision and commit to negotiating a fair contract,” said CWA communications director Beth Allen in a statement ahead of the vote.
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