A ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that 21 Raven Software QA workers are eligible to take a union vote. This follows the establishment of Game Workers Alliance by Raven QA workers after a dozen QA workers were suddenly fired one Friday, leading to a strike, and issues with other labor concerns across the parent company, Activision Blizzard. The company did not voluntarily recognize the group’s formation of a union, which led to the workers filing a petition with the NLRB to secure a vote.
At that time, Activision Blizzard released a statement saying that they believed all Raven Software employees should get a vote should there be a union vote happening in order to give everyone employed there a voice. This statement was repeated at a hearing where the NLRB was to decide the outcome. The workers represented by Game Workers Alliance alleged that this was an effort to dilute their potential vote and called it a form of union busting.
Today’s decision means that the NLRB rejected that argument, and there will be a union vote. Those eligible will be full and part-time QA workers who were working through the pay period that ended on April 16th. Ballots will be mailed out on April 29th and voters must return ballots by May 20th for a count on May 23rd. This count will happen live via video conference.
Activision Blizzard released a statement to the Washington Post, where spokesperson Rich George said that, “While we respect the NLRB process, we are disappointed that a decision that could significantly impact the future of our entire studio will be made by fewer than 10 percent of our employees. We believe a direct relationship with team members is the best path to achieving individual and company goals ”.
The NLRB’s decision noted that QA workers are Raven’s “ lowest paid employees” and that even if they were given full time jobs, the majority of them would only make approximately $38,430 a year, “well below any other position’s listed minimum salary range”.
There will be more to come with this situation, as things move forward. Microsoft, which is waiting for approval to buy Activision Blizzard, said it will honor any decisions employees make with regard to unionization.