Gaming gets its first syndication at a major US studio

Gaming gets its first syndication at a major US studio

Developers rise up to join unions at Activision Blizzard.

picture: Activision Blizzard / Kotaku / Yevgenij_D (Shutterstock)

Although months Negative talking points by Call of duty Publisher Activision Blizzard, quality assurance staff at its Raven Software studio, voted to join a union on Monday, becoming the first major studio union to be unionized in the United States. Job security and corporate accountability.

vote that was Live broadcast on Twitchrepresenting 28 QA developers in the Wisconsin studio who help with Call of Duty: War Zone and other blockbuster movies, and ended with a tally of 19 in favor of three against (two votes challenged). Under the name Game Workers Alliance (GWA)The group is now legally recognized by the National Labor Relations Board and can go ahead with negotiating its first contract with Activision Blizzard to secure better pay and other improved working conditions. Bestselling perks like Call of duty They are notorious pressure vessels for developers, and developers in QA often bear the brunt of the project and company flaws.

“Activision Blizzard has worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered,” GWA members said in a statement. “Now that we have won our elections, it is our duty to protect these foundational values ​​upon which our union is based.”

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether to support or vote for a union,” said Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Ron Thalia. Kotaku in a letter. “We believe that an important decision that will affect the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 people should not be made by the 19 employees of Raven.”

Last December, more than 60 Raven Software employees quit their jobs in protest of cutbacks that led to some contractual QA staff being laid off rather than shifting to full time. But in the face of pressure from the historic union’s campaign of QA employees, Activision Blizzard later voluntarily pledged to convert all remaining QA employees across the company to full-time and increase the minimum wage to $20 an hour. The union workers were the only ones Excluded from the wage bump. Now they will negotiate on their own.

The negotiation process itself can be a long and drawn out battle, and it comes after Raven QA has already faced stiff opposition from management over its attempts to regulate. When employees originally announced their intention to join a union in January, they invited Activision to voluntarily acknowledge them. But the publisher, which has spent the better part of the past year facing growing allegations of workplace abuse, including an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement and a California lawsuit alleging Spread of sexual harassment and discriminationResist.

Last December, Brian Polatau, the former Trump fanatic and current managing director at Activision Blizzard, Who stands to make millions From a planned sale of the company to Microsoft, employees begged not to join unions In an email to employees. When Raven QA employees went ahead with regulation anyway, the company tried to force a studio-level vote on the issue rather than leaving a few dozen employees to decide. Eventually, the National Labor Relations Board scrapped that as well, and instead Activision directors retracted to sustainable campaign of anti-union messages, including saying Guild formation will lead to worse games.

In recent months, Activision has also faced numerous labor complaints about violating workers’ rights and has been lost there as well. The NLRB announced Monday that its Los Angeles regional office “found advantage” in a complaint in December alleging that the company had spied on and threatened employees to discuss working conditions with each other, and that its social media policy was overly restrictive.

“The board’s decision reinforces what workers have been facing at Activision when trying to raise concerns about serious problems in the company,” said Tom Smith, director of Communications Workers Regulatory of America. Kotaku in the current situation. “In order to rebuild trust in Activision, Bobby Kotick needs to take the high road and start listening to workers rather than doing everything possible – including breaking the law – to silence them.”

Activision isn’t the only big video game company facing increased scrutiny from the NLRB, though. The successful union campaign of Raven workers comes on the heels of independent game studio Vodeo Games It became the first of its kind in the guilds In North America last year, hiring staff at BioWare Announcing a union campaign Last month. The movement, which comes along with explosions in union activism at Starbucks, Amazon and Apple, has raised questions in places like America’s Nintendo.

Like Kotaku Previously mentioned, a former Nintendo contract employee asked management’s thoughts on these union efforts at a department meeting in February. The employee was later fired. Nintendo said in a statement that this was due to a violation of the non-disclosure agreement. employees Kotaku I spoke with did not believe it. Subsequently, the employee filed a complaint with the NLRB for coercion and retaliation, such as First reported by Axios in April.

“[The Raven union is] The spark that ignites the rest of the industry will be, I believe,” Jessica Gonzalez, a former developer at Activision Blizzard QA who helped organize her new labor groups, Tell New York times on Monday. While the group will begin negotiating its first contract with Activision Blizzard, Microsoft will eventually manage it if the planned $69 billion acquisition is not torpedoed during review by the Federal Trade Commission. The tech giant said You will recognize the union If and when it takes over.

“Our greatest hope is that our union will inspire the growing movement of workers organizing in video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values ​​and empower us all,” GWA members said today. “We look forward to working with management to positively shape our business conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”

Update: 5/23/22 4:07PM ET: Comment added from Activision Blizzard.

2022-05-23 19:33:00

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