Activision Blizzard reorganizes Raven tester department that voted for union

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Activision Blizzard game-testing workers in Wisconsin are expected to file for union with the National Labor Relations Board. Meanwhile, the company reorganized in an alleged attempt to split the testers, the Washington Post reported.

Action will be taken after Raven Software failed to reach an agreement with 34 quality-assurance workers who said they were forming a union. The workers called for Activision Blizzard, which has about 9,500 workers and publishes a Call of Duty to identify their union, which is rare in the video game industry.

Workers at the Madison, Wisconsin-based Raven software division of Activision Blizzard said they have a majority in their department. Workers are testers on the Call of Duty: Warzone game, and their union effort was initiated due to layoffs, overtime and low pay. Activision recently announced that it is delaying the launch of Season 2 of Call of Duty: Vanguard and its accompanying Warzone update as it works to eliminate bugs.

Meanwhile, Raven’s studio boss Brian Raphael sent a letter to employees stating that the company had made organizational changes that were part of its ongoing changes to the studio. He said he would take the game testers and spread them across the departments they work for and embed them in departments like animation, art, design, audio, manufacturing and engineering.

Workers saw this as an attempt to slow down their consolidation efforts across a large number of departments and employees. It carries some risks, as the union has kept it a secret that it hopes to fight more divisions in the Activision Blizzard, as well as the rest of the sports industry, to fight the situation. This is also a challenge considering that many workers are going to join well-financed startups during the gaming boom.

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Raphael said: “Call of Duty: Ongoing expansion of Warzone as we look forward, more important than ever is that we promote tighter integration and integration across the studio – embedding will allow for this.”

He said this was part of a plan that began a few months ago, but it warmed up in December when the company laid off some employees, triggering a strike among raven testers. The strike lasted seven weeks.

He said Activision’s other studios used the “embedded model” to better coordinate staff and result in faster-moving, live-service operations.

But union observers have questioned whether the move is a retaliation against workers for voting for the union. According to a survey released by the Game Developers Conference last week, more than 55% of game developers say they favor the union.

Fighting from above at Nakatomi Plaza in Warzone.
Fighting from above at Nakatomi Plaza in Warzone.

On Friday, the Game Workers Alliance Union (CWA) with the American Communication Workers said it had formed a union in Raven’s quality assurance department. This happened after Microsoft agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard for $ 75 billion.

“Today, I am proud to join the majority of my fellow workers in building our union, the Game Workers Alliance (CWA),” Beka Agner, QA Functional Tester II at Raven, said in a statement from the group on Friday. “People in the video game industry, especially Raven QA, are passionate about their jobs and the content they’re creating. We want to make sure that the passion of these workers is reflected in our workplace and in the materials we create. Our union is how our collective voices can be heard through leadership. “

The aspiring union workers, known as the Game Workers Alliance, cited the toxic corporate culture in their parent company as reasons for motivating them to organize. Last July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging gender discrimination, inequality, and harassment, alleging that the company had a “freight boy culture” that included excessive drinking and sexual harassment. Is.

Raven Software has more than 300 employees, and works on Call of Duty titles like Warzone as well as others.

The company issued the following statement this afternoon: “At Activision Blizzard, we deeply respect the rights of all employees to make their own decisions about whether or not to join the union. We carefully reviewed and considered the CWA’s initial request last week and tried to find a mutually acceptable solution with the CWA that would have speeded up the election process. Unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement. “

The company added, “We expect the union to proceed with the election by filing a petition to the NLRB. If filed, the company will formally respond to the petition immediately. The most important thing for the company is that every eligible employee has the opportunity to hear their voice and count their personal votes and we think that all the employees of Raven should have an opinion in this decision. “

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the sequel to Call of Duty: Warzone is expected in 2023. He also said that Sony would have the rights to that title as well as the annual Call of Duty release in 2022 and 2023.

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