QA workers at the Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software voted to unionize. It’s a major win for organized labor within the video game industry.
The vote to unionize at Raven Software comes weeks after Amazon workers voted in favor of unionization at a Staten Island warehouse in New York. Although union membership remains at historic lows, the labor rights movement has gained steam with successful pushes to unionize dozens of Starbucks locations.
Despite months of negative talking points by Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard, quality assurance staff at its Raven Software studio voted to unionize Monday, becoming the first union at a big studio in the U.S. The successful vote comes with talk of labor organizing picking up across the gaming industry as developers call for better pay, job security, and corporate accountability.
The vote, which was livestreamed on Twitch, represented 28 QA devs at the Wisconsin studio that assists with Call of Duty: Warzone and other big blockbusters, and ended in a tally of 19 in favor and three against (two votes were challenged). Under the label Game Workers Alliance (GWA), the group is now legally recognized by the National Labor Relations Board and can proceed to negotiate its first contract with Activision Blizzard to secure better pay and other improved working conditions. Best-selling franchises like Call of Duty are notorious pressure cookers for developers, and developers in QA often bear the brunt of a project and a company’s shortcomings.
“Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered,” members of GWA said in a statement. “Now that we’ve won our election, it is our duty to protect these foundational values on which our union stands.”