Game Workers Alliance, the division of Raven Software QA employees that decided to become the first studio within Activision Blizzard to unionize, announced their decision last week, they ended an ongoing strike and asked the company to voluntarily recognize their union. The deadline for a response was 6 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, and since the company did not respond by the deadline today, the union will go on to file with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union election. If granted and the vote holds as expected, with a supermajority of members voting yes to unionize, then Activision Blizzard will have to negotiate with the union representation going forward.
This development has been ongoing since strike action and a walkout happened over the sudden dismissal of about a dozen QA employees at Raven software on a Friday in December. That event led to days of walkouts by QA employees representing several of the company’s studios. Once the Raven employees decided to unionize, they ended strike action pending the company's response.
On Monday, Raven software QA testers were taken to a meeting with HR where, according to The Washington Post, they were told that they would be sent to work in different departments across the studio, Some experts see as potentially trying to dilute their unionization power. However one tester, Onah Rongstad, reinforced that the group is still performing QA work and remains a unit, so this reorganization is not going to stop their efforts.
All of this employee dissatisfaction follows piling up accusations, investigations on the state and federal level, and a series of employee dismissals over workplace behavior, discrimination, and inappropriate conduct. The company's stock price also suffered over 2021, and CEO Bobby Kotick faced a number of calls for his removal or resignation. Microsoft announced a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard King last week for nearly $70 billion in a cash acquisition. Kotick is widely expected to leave when that goes through.
Raven Software is set to be included in this acquisition, but that deal won't close until 2023 at the earliest, so for now Activision Blizzard will likely have to negotiate with a union after their vote is held.
UPDATE: Yesterday evening, Activision Blizzard released a statement that reads, in part:
“The most important thing to the company is that each eligible employee has the opportunity to have their voice heard and their individual vote counted, and we think all employees at Raven should have a say in this decision.”
The company wants to have all Raven employees participate in the vote the GWA is filing for, not just the QA employees who decided to unionize, something seen as potentially diluting the effort.