Gaming giant Activision Blizzard unlawfully retaliated against workers at Raven Software who formed a union, the National Labor Relations Board found.
The quality assurance (QA) department at subsidiary Raven Software, who mostly work on “Call of Duty,” announced that they would form a union in January. Activision Blizzard sought to block the union, reasoning that the union only comprises the 28-employee QA department, while as a whole, Raven Software has around 230 employees. Regardless, the Raven Software QA testers, who operate under the name Game Workers Alliance (GWA), made history in May when their union vote passed 19-3. Now, the GWA is the first officially recognized union at a major U.S. gaming company.
While the GWA was in the process of unionizing, Activision Blizzard converted about 1,100 QA contractors to full-time staffers and increased the minimum wage to $20 per hour. But workers at Raven Software, who are among the lowest paid in the studio, were denied these wage increases. Activision Blizzard claimed that, due to laws under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the company wasn’t allowed to change the pay rate of its employees in the midst of a union effort. The Communication Workers of America, which represents the union, said that this was a disingenuous attempt at union busting.