Raven Software employees voted in favor of joining the union, formally creating the Alliance of Game Workers, now the first triple-A video game developer union in the United States. Quality assurance testers at Raven Software officially announced in January that they intended to form a union under the name of Game Workers Alliance during the ongoing labor actions then underway following the dismissal of 12 members of the developer’s QA team but when Activision Blizzard missed a deadline for voluntary recognition of the union, the group filed a petition to the Independent Government Agency, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to begin the union elections.
The unionization plans came after the Raven Software QA developers had been on strike since December over Activision Blizzard’s refusal to give new contracts to 12 members. Raven Software QA developers in December. After months of organizing, the Game Workers Alliance, the employees at Raven Software, has formally voted in favor of unionization at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The Quality Assurance Team of Raven Software, the studio owned by Call of Duty producer Activision Blizzard, which contributed to the massively popular Call of Duty game Warzone, has officially voted in favor of joining together as a union. In April, Activision Blizzard had claimed a union vote had to involve all employees on Raven Softwares QA team, or over 200 workers, to be valid, but the National Labor Relations Board found a smaller group of quality assurance workers were entitled to hold the vote themselves. Despite that pressure, the company chose not to officially recognize the first-ever labor union at the company. As the frustrations were growing, and Activision Blizzard-owned studio Raven Software initially started making noises about unionization, the company, by coincidence, broke the ranks of the QA workers, putting them into positions across the studio.
Leading up to today, management at Raven Software went so far as to send out a slew of emails encouraging employees to vote no on unionization, suggesting employees who did plan on joining a union would get passed over for promotions. Throughout most of last year, Activision Blizzard was busy sending union-busting emails and hiring anti-union lawyers in response to an official effort at unionization. The developer studio has sent Ravens employees repeated emails, repeatedly, to reiterate how long unions took to negotiate their first contracts, and how pay raises are not guaranteed in a union.
As reported in The Washington Post, today the Milwaukee branch of the National Labor Relations Board tallied mailed ballots submitted by Raven’s quality assurance testers, with the final count showing 19 votes for unionization and three votes against making the Alliance of Game Workers one of the first legally recognized unions at a major U.S. video game publisher. As reported by Polygon, unionization represents the first time workers have formed a union, and according to an official from the Communications Workers of America, 78% of Raven Softwares quality assurance workers supported joining. While the first-ever union at the company is not the first gaming union to form, it is the first one at a large, global corporation, and comes amid widespread calls for unionization, with workers forced back into an office environment after two years largely working from home.