As a group of developers at Raven Software, the Activision Blizzard subsidiary best known these days for its work on Call of Duty: Warzone, begin to send in their votes for unionization, members of the team are sharing their experiences in the months-long push for union recognition.
"Finally being able to vote yes made all of the hard work we’ve put in over these past five months worth it. The fact that Activision tried so hard to stop our union every step of the way makes it clear that a union is necessary at this company," a developer who chose to remain anonymous told the Washington Post.
A group of just under 30 Raven Software quality assurance staff is eligible to participate in the vote to unionize. Ballots will be counted on May 23 by the Milwaukee office of the National Labor Relations Board.
In December 2021, a group of Raven Software employees staged a strike after a dozen QA contractors were released from the company. That strike ended after eight weeks, when members of the QA team announced the formation of the Game Workers Alliance in collaboration with the Communication Workers of America.
Activision Blizzard did not recognize the union at the time of its formation in January. As the QA workers under the GWA banner pushed for a union vote, the publisher argued that all of Raven should participate. The dispute went before the NLRB, which ruled that the union vote could go ahead with the smaller group of QA workers.
According to the Washington Post, leadership at Raven has suggested that unionization could negatively affect promotions and benefits, or impede game development. An internal email reportedly sent to employees reportedly contained a graphic saying "please vote no."
Shortly after staff petitioned the NLRB, Raven split QA workers into different parts of the studio, as part of what the company called an "embedded tester model." Employees tell the Washington Post that their duties have become inconsistent since the move. One says "we have more to do than we can ever possibly accomplish in a day, and other days we’re sitting around waiting to hear what we should work on. We aren’t all on the same page anymore."
While the buyout of Activision Blizzard won't meet final approvals for some time, Microsoft has said it won't "stand in the way" of a union at the company.
The ramifications of the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard continue to unfold.