Weeks after Activision Blizzard did not voluntarily recognize the Game Workers Alliance at Raven Software and their decision to unionize, a hearing by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began today over the topic of who should get to vote in the upcoming union election.
With the Raven software QA employees having spent several months attempting to work towards unionization, After declaring their intention to unionize after weeks on strike and waiting for voluntary recognition, the QA department was broken down and all of the workers reassigned to different departments within Raven Software. Representation for the Raven workers claim that this was an effort by Activision Blizzard to dilute their voices, especially after the deadline passed for voluntary recognition and the company insisted that all employees at Raven software should get a vote, not just one department. Their counsel argued that QA is no longer a separate department, and letting them vote alone would not be appropriate.
With the QA department about one-tenth the size of the full Raven Workforce of 300 employees, this just may be a strategy, especially after claims of union-busting efforts and all hands meetings were called in order to discourage participation. Activision Blizzard claims that the eligible voting group should be as large as possible and represent the whole company because decisions to unionize or not would affect all of them.
A statement to The Washington Post from Game Workers Alliance stated that, "The lack of transparency from management during this process, coupled with their refusal to come to the table with Raven QA workers has been demoralizing. it's past time for Activision Blizzard to recognize that we – the workers – have organized our union and we’re not backing down."
Activision Blizzard's own statement to WaPo echoed the belief that organizing just one department is “inappropriate” and reflected a desire to see the full company have a say in the unionization vote: “We believe that every eligible employee deserves to have their vote counted. We look forward to the NLRB’s decision”.
With a pending $67B sale to Microsoft waiting in the wings, Activision Blizzard declared in statements to the SEC that there were no known unionization activities going on. This has since been disputed as misleading.
A ruling is not expected for a while on the matter.
Update 3:46pm: this post has been updated for clarity.