Activision-Blizzard: Call of Duty Warzone testers achieve a historic first!

business news Activision-Blizzard: Call of Duty Warzone testers achieve a historic first!

This is a case that has been going on for several months. QA testers from Raven Software, the studio behind Call of Duty, have just won their case and achieved a historic first as part of a AAA studio.

A strike and a particularly difficult context

Late last year, QA testers at Raven Software went on strike to challenge the dismissal of a dozen testersto whom Activision-Blizzard would have promised a full-time job, unlocking a number of benefits.

The strike lasted several weeks and caused a stir since echoing complaints for harassment, sexual assault and discrimination. Part of this case was settled following an agreement to create an $18 million fundthe rest is still in progress.

A first recognized union in a triple A studio

But on the side of Raven Software, the movement resulted in the desire to found a representative trade unionwhat is very far from common in the USA. A first request was therefore filed, but Activision-Blizzard did not respond in time, considering that the direct communication is more relevant than a union that “slows everything down”. Elements of language found in many American and global companies, and which is therefore not the prerogative of the publisher.

By this lack of response, Activision-Blizzard did not recognize the desire to create a union, forcing workers to go through an internal vote after filing a file with the National Labor Relations Board. The file was validated, and the vote took place on April 29, inviting 28 people to go to the polls. As expected, the count took place yesterday, Monday, April 23, 2022, allowing us to know the result.

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The employees concerned, who have since joined the union Communications Workers of America (approximately 700,000 members), were therefore able to attend the victory of their movement by 19 votes for and 3 against in videoconference. The 6 missing votes are null or non-existent. The syndicate, the Game Workers Alliance, has therefore been officially recognized by the American Statewhich is a first in a AAA studio.

The result of this election, the voice of people coming together to vote yes for this union, is further validation that even a small group of people in Madison, Wisconsin can take on a giant AAA studios like Activision, and emerge victorious on the other side Now that the struggle for recognition is over, we can focus our efforts on negotiations.

We will fight for respect, we will fight for better wages, better benefits, better work-life balance, we will fight for sustainability and job security, and we will continue to fight for our colleagues out of solidarity,” said Raven Software QA tester Becka Aigner.

On the side of Activision-Blizzard, we were therefore obliged to officially recognize the unionwhich went through a press release written by Jessica Taylorspokesperson for the publisher.

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, which numbers approximately 350 people, should not be made by 19 of Raven’s employees. We are committed to doing what is best for the studio and our employees.

A fight far from over, which however sets a precedent

A good understanding is therefore not yet in place between the publisher’s management and the very young union, which, according to Bloomberg, has seen internal emails in which management indicated that the union could not guarantee better wages, and that negotiated contracts often put “an end to flexible working hours”.

From now on, Activision-Blizzard must face accusations from the Department of Labor, which is reportedly investigating threats made by Activision-Blizzard management against employeesbut also on public statements that would harm the rights of employees in terms of collective action. Bloomberg claims that the ministry already has a certain amount of evidence, but Activision disputes, stating that “These allegations are false”. Anyway, this vote sets a precedent in the industryand many developers could step into the breach.

What’s even more exciting than what this means for us at Raven is the precedent this sets for the gaming industry. QA testers are underpaid and exploited, it’s the norm and together with the unions we can change that. I hope ours is the first union of many for quality assurance workers and I can’t wait to see which studio will be next, added a worker who wished to remain anonymous.

All that remains is to know how this will all evolve as part of Microsoft’s takeover of Activision-Blizzard. The Redmond-based firm isn’t known for its benevolence to the labor movement, but Vice President Lisa Tanzi has previously spoken out to say the company would not interfere with the desire to unionize employees.

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