A group of quality assurance testers at Call of Duty developer Raven Software have voted to create one of the first video game unions in the United States, and the first at a major studio in the country.
22 staffers at Raven Software voted, and the motion passed 19-3. The group, known as Game Workers Alliance, can now move ahead with contract negotiations with management at Activision Blizzard. It’s not immediately clear what specific terms the group is seeking.
The Game Workers Alliance said in a statement to The Verge, “Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values and empower all of us. We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”
In December 2021, QA workers at Raven went on strike. Some QA testers were later shifted to “embedded” jobs within other departments at Raven. Labor expert Tom Smith told Polygon that this was “nothing more than a tactic” to try to stop Raven QA staff from organizing.
Activision Blizzard later announced that it would convert 1,100 temporary workers across the company to full time and increase pay to at least $20/hour with eligibility for bonuses and benefits.
A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard told GameSpot, “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”
In December 2021, workers at the small North American studio Vodeo Games formed a union. Contract staff workers at BioWare are now also setting the stage to form a union. A worker at Nintendo of America is taking action against the company and has filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board that accuses the Mario maker of firing them for trying to start a union.
Looking more widely across the labor market, workers at Starbucks and Amazon are also in the process of seeking to form workers’ unions right now.
Jessica Gonzalez, a former QA staffer at Activision Blizzard who founded the activist group ABetterABK, told The New York Times that the vote from Raven QA staff to unionize would be “the spark that ignites the rest of the industry, I believe” as it relates to collective bargaining.
US Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin celebrated the news, offering congratulations to the workers at Raven, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin.
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) May 23, 2022
Activision Blizzard is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, but it remains to be seen how that proposed merger could affect Raven’s potential union.
Kompletter Artikel: CoD Devs Vote To Form US's First Union At Major Game Company