Employees have voted to form the first union at Activision Blizzard, the long-embattled gaming giant known for titles such as Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. Per the Verge, quality-assurance workers at Activision subsidiary Raven Software (a major contributor to the Call of Duty franchise) have been organizing as the Game Workers Alliance since January. Their union, which passed Monday with 19 out of 22 votes, represents only the second formal union in the entire U.S. video-game industry. “Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values and empower all of us,” the Game Workers Alliance said in a statement. “We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”
The Washington Post reports that if no objection is filed, Raven management must begin bargaining with the union in good faith on May 31. Activision previously attempted to stop unionization efforts by moving quality-assurance employees to different teams and arguing that a union should include all Raven employees. “We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union,” an Activision spokeswoman said in a statement. “We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 of Raven employees. We’re committed to doing what’s best for the studio and our employees.”
The union vote came on the same day that federal labor officials separately found that Activision had violated labor laws. According to a Bloomberg report, the National Labor Relations Board alleged Monday that the company had threatened staff and enforced a social-media policy that violated workers’ collective-action rights. “These allegations are false,” an Activision spokesperson said in a statement. “Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates employees’ NLRA rights.” The NLRB said it will issue a formal complaint if Activision does not settle.