When Raven quality assurance (QA) staff formed a union last week, called the Game Workers Alliance (GWA), it gave Activision Blizzard until Tuesday, January 25 at 6 PM EST to respond. As the recently acquired company did not respond, the GWA will now go to file a union election with the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB).
The GWA staff will then be able to formalise their union without management recognition. According to the NLRB website, once the union is recognised in this scenario “the employer [Activision Blizzard] is required to bargain over your terms and conditions of employment with your union representative.”
This comes via The Washington Post. The GWA is formed of staff working on Call Of Duty: Warzone, who recently ended a strike over working conditions, pay and layoffs. According to the report Raven Software’s studio head, Brain Raffel, sent an email to staff shortly after the deadline was missed by Activision:
“After carefully reviewing and considering the CWA’s initial request of the company, we worked quickly to find a mutually acceptable solution with the CWA that would have led to an expedited election process,” read the email. “Unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement. [We] expect that the union will soon be moving forward with the filing of a petition to the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) for an election of eligible Raven employees. If filed, the company will respond formally to that petition promptly.
“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,” Raffel continued.
Before this decision was reached, Raven Software QA staff, who are in the GWA union, were told they would be split up. Instead of having one QA department, each member would be assigned to areas like art, design, audio and animation, where they will be working with the relevant team.
The GWA released a statement to Twitter, saying it is “deeply disappointed” that Activision Blizzard chose not to voluntarily recognise the union, and that it had “chosen to make a rushed restructuring announcement to try and hinder our right to organise.”
“The timing of Activision Blizzard[‘s] Raven announcement raises the question of whether they are retaliating against the QA employees because of their union activities,” said Cornell professor of labour and employment law Risa Lieberwitz to The Washington Post, but she also noted that it shouldn’t stunt the unionisation process.