Raven Software QA Group votes to unionize, becoming first major US gaming union


Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software employees today voted to be recognized as a union, and the vote was successful. This is the first major US games union to be formed in a major studio.

The vote held today ensures that Raven Software employees have successfully unionized and the Game Workers Alliance. According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier on Twitter, the union vote passed by 19 votes in favour, 3 against. Ahead of today’s vote, company spokesman Jessica Taylor said in a statement to The Washington Post that AB believes that a “decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 employees will be made by no less than 10% of the… Raven staff should be met.”

In a statement to, a spokesman for Activision Blizzard reiterated this point, stating:

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to choose whether to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will affect the entire Raven Software studio with around 350 employees should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”

Activision Blizzard announced last month that the company would convert over 1,000 employees — virtually all of its remaining US-based temps and contract QA staff — to full-time status, which would also give them a pay rise. That wouldn’t apply to Raven Software’s testers, however, as Activision Blizzard said it was “due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act,” citing a law that favors employers extending new benefits to employees who go to vote .

As a result of the union vote, the next step for GWA is to finalize its first deal with Activision Blizzard and Raven Software. It won’t be an easy process, but it’s one Raven employee (according to the Washington Post) who will encourage other studios and game developers to follow suit.

This marks another milestone in Activision Blizzard’s recent history, which has seen employees laid off over the past several months due to the recent upheaval caused by the California Department of Equal Employment and Housing’s recent lawsuit against AB last summer. Additionally, Raven Software employees went on strike late last year in response to the company’s firing of 12 of their colleagues and eventual strike action.

Today’s vote also came with allegations from the NLRB that Activision Blizzard was illegally attempting to thwart potential union organizing efforts, allegations Activision Blizzard called “false.” Via a statement to the Washington Post:

“These allegations are false. Employees are free to speak up about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly includes employees’ NLRA rights.”

How this vote will impact the overall gaming industry landscape remains to be seen, but the coming months should prove interesting, especially as Activision Blizzard is currently being acquired by Microsoft for nearly $69 billion. Raven Software QA Group votes to unionize, becoming first major US gaming union

Fry Electronics Team

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