New full-time jobs at Activision Blizzard come with a bit of union busting

Hours after announcing that it would convert more than 1,000 temporary employees and contract QA into full-time and provide a minimum wage of $20 an hour, Activision Blizzard states that Raven Software QA workers will not be part of this deal. According to a report from BloombergHowever, Raven Software’s QA testers recently organized as the Game Workers Alliance won’t be able to take advantage of the new minimum wage — something Activision Blizzard failed to mention up front when it sent the initial news to the media. The exclusion of employee organization from company-wide benefits appears to be Activision Blizzard’s latest move against the burgeoning labor movement underway at the company.

In a statement to the edge, Jessica Taylor, Activision Blizzard spokeswoman confirmed BloombergIts results say:

“All Raven QA are full time and already have access to full company benefits and eligibility to participate in the company’s rewards program. Due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, we cannot start new Raven wage initiatives at this time, as they will be new types of compensation change.

In addition to this statement, Activision Blizzard has also provided the edge With a copy of the email Brian Ravel, president of studio Raven Software, sent to the staff.

a team,

Today, it was announced that all US TEA and quality assurance personnel will be converted to FTE. This news builds on our transfers across AP Studios that began in December 2021. Through direct dialogue with each other, 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, Activision QA teams will receive a minimum hourly rate increase. Additionally, when transfers are made, these QA employees will have access to full company benefits and eligibility to participate in the company’s rewards program, in the same way that Raven QA teams already have. Due to our legal obligations under the National Employment Relationships Act, we are prohibited from making new types of compensation changes in Raven at this time.

I encourage you to speak to any department head, manager, or human resources department to learn more about the union or this process or to answer any specific questions about [this] Newsletter.

As always, I will share more details when I can. I’m excited about what this could mean for our teams.

The email appears to have been expertly crafted to have a chilling effect on the Gameworkers Alliance’s ongoing efforts to establish the company’s first union. Phrases such as “Through direct dialogue with each other, we have improved wages, expanded benefits and provided career opportunities” sends the message that the activities of the regulators’ union have prevented them from enjoying the benefits that the company offers to others.

Since Activision Blizzard has not voluntarily recognized the union, the next step in the process involves a vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If the majority of the electorate decides in favor of the union, it must be recognized and the bargaining begins. That vote has yet to take place, and excluding Raven QA from company-wide QA improvements may intimidate employee regulators and those sitting in the anti-union vote.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), which helps form and advocate for unions in a variety of technology companies, including Activision Blizzard, agrees. In an email, CWA Treasurer, Sarah Stevens the edge:

Make no mistake, all credit for the latest step taken by Activision Blizzard to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time jobs and the bonus should go to the workers who organized, mobilized and spoke.

It is especially distressing that Activision has excluded the workers at Raven Software QA, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits. The company’s assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an attempt to divide workers and undermine their efforts to form a union (Game Workers Alliance – CWA). Activision’s deceptive ad is further evidence of the need for workers to have a protected voice on the job. We strongly urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and to respect the right of Raven QA workers protected by law to organize.

Activision Blizzard has a very different look, of course. Here’s a response to CWA via Activision spokesperson Rich George:

Guild assertion is false and deceptive at the same time. It is known that during the electoral petition period, the law forbids the employer to provide new types of benefits to employees who are going to vote. See National Labor Relations Board v. Exchange Parts Co., 375 US 405 (1964) and Associated Issues for a discussion of these rules. The CWA blames us for trying to comply with the law by pretending the law doesn’t exist.”

This isn’t the first potential syndicate-busting action that Activision Blizzard has taken in relation to Raven QA Regulatory employees. Days after the Game Workers Alliance voted on the formation, Activision Blizzard restructured its QA division, incorporating QA workers across departmental teams. By splitting the QA department into workers spread over multiple teams, Activision Blizzard likely isolates regulators and disrupts communication and cohesion. Although this process is common in the video game developer organization, the CWA said, “[This] Nothing more than a tactic to frustrate Raven QA workers exercising their right to organize.”

Update, 6:11pm ET: Added a response from Activision Blizzard to the CWA allegations.