hours after notification it would convert over 1,000 temporary and contract quality assurance workers to full-time and pay a minimum wage of $20 an hour, Activision Blizzard states that Raven Software’s QA staff will not be part of this deal. according to a Report from Bloombergthe QA testers at Raven Software recently organized as the Game Workers Alliance won’t be able to take advantage of the new minimum salary — something Activision Blizzard didn’t mention upfront when it first sent news to the media. Excluding organizing employees from company-wide benefits appears to be Activision Blizzard’s latest move against the burgeoning labor movement at the company.
In a statement to The edge, This was confirmed by Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor Bloomberg‘s results and says:
“All QAs at Raven are full-time employees and already have access to full company benefits and eligibility to participate in the company’s loyalty program. Due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, we are currently unable to introduce new pay initiatives at Raven as doing so would represent new types of pay changes.”
In addition to that statement, Activision Blizzard also delivered The edge with a copy of the email Raven Software Studio Manager Brian Raffel sent to the staff.
Today it was announced that all US-based TEA and temporary QA employees will be converted to full-time equivalents. This news builds on our transition at AP Studios, which began in December 2021. By engaging directly with one another, we’ve improved pay, expanded benefits and created career opportunities to attract and retain the world’s best talent.
As part of today’s news, these Activision QA teams are receiving an increase in minimum hourly rates. Additionally, when the conversions occur, these QA staff will have access to all company benefits and eligibility to participate in the company’s loyalty program, just as our Raven QA teams already did. Due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, we are currently prohibited from making any new types of compensation changes at Raven.
I encourage you to speak to a department head, manager or Human Resources to learn more about the union and this process or to answer specific questions [this] Messages.
As always, I’ll share more details when I can. I’m excited to see what that could mean for our teams.
The email appears to be expertly crafted to have a chilling effect on the Game Workers Alliance’s continued efforts to form the company’s first union. Words like “Through direct dialogue with one another, we have increased pay, expanded benefits and created career opportunities” conveys the message that the organizers’ union activities have prevented them from realizing the benefits the company offers to others.
Since Activision Blizzard did not voluntarily recognize the union, the next step in the process involves voting overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If a majority of voters choose a union, it must be recognized and negotiations must begin. That vote hasn’t taken place yet, and Raven QA’s exclusion from company-wide QA improvements could intimidate employee organizers and fence sitters into voting against unionization.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA), who help form and advocate for unions at various technology companies including Activision Blizzard, agrees. CWA Secretary and Treasurer Sara Steffens said in an email The edge:
Make no mistake, all credit for Activision Blizzard’s recent move to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time employment and a pay rise should go to the workers who organized, mobilized, and spoke up.
What is particularly annoying is that Activision has excluded Raven Software QA personnel who have been at the forefront of this effort from these benefits. The company’s claim that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from incorporating Raven workers is clearly an attempt to divide workers and undermine their efforts to form a union (Game Workers Alliance – CWA). Activision’s disingenuous announcement is further proof that workers need a protected voice in the workplace. We urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and respect the Raven QA workers’ proprietary right to organize.
This isn’t the first possible anti-union action Activision Blizzard has taken against unionized employees at Raven QA. Days after the Game Workers Alliance voted to create it, Activision Blizzard restructured the QA department, embedding QA contributors into all department teams. By dividing the QA department into employees spread across multiple teams, Activision Blizzard is potentially isolating organizers and disrupting communication and cohesion. Although the process is common in the video game developer organization, the CWA said: “[This] is nothing more than a tactic to thwart Raven QA workers exercising their right to association.”
https://www.theverge.com/23015299/activision-blizzard-raven-software-unionizing-employees-qa-raises Activision Blizzard’s new full-time jobs come with a bit of union busting