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Quality assurance staff at Raven Software (a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard) recently voted in favour of unionisation, making them the first union at a major studio in the United States. The union is known as the ‘Game Workers Alliance’ (GWA) and has been recognised by the U.S. National Labour Relations Board. As Microsoft is attempting to purchase Activision Blizzard, it has a direct stake in the outcome of union negotiations which is why Spencer is relevant here.
As reported by Kotaku, during an all-hands meeting with Xbox Game Studios employees, Spencer confirmed that Microsoft would support employee organisations. “We think it is a right of employees and something that can be a part of a relationship between a company and people who work at the company,” Spencer was quoted as saying. This is despite alleged attempts by Activision Blizzard to undermine the forming of the union at Raven, hindering its creation at every step, and reportedly participating in union-busting tactics.
Happy union day! We won! pic.twitter.com/nzJ4A3J3RB
— Game Workers Alliance 💙#WeAreGWA (@WeAreGWA) May 23, 2022
Microsoft previously stated it “didn’t object” to the forming of the union. However, with Spencer’s comment, it has again confirmed the union will be supported should the Activision Blizzard deal be approved following an ongoing federal trade commission investigation. However, Spencer did place emphasis on the fact that Microsoft does not currently have a relationship with the GWA.
This is a promising sign for the GWA but it still has a large task ahead in negotiating with Activision Blizzard. It’s not yet known whether Microsoft will make significant changes to Activision Blizzard’s hierarchy but if this is not the case then GWA will continue to deal with the same management which opposed unionisation efforts.
In other industry news, EA will not be making a statement in support of abortion rights.