On behalf of 27 quality-assurance employees at Raven Software, the studio that is the principal developer for the “Call of Duty” series, Activision Blizzard announced Friday that it will begin talks with Communications Workers of America union representatives to negotiate a contract.
New trade union organization “Call of Duty” recognized by Activision Blizzard
Microsoft president Brad Smith declared last week that the company would be more sympathetic to employee unionization attempts in order to “avoid public disagreements” that have plagued other tech titans such as Amazon and Google.
The turnaround comes as Microsoft prepares to make a $69 billion deal for Activision Blizzard, which was revealed in January. The companies have stated that the merger, which would be the largest-ever in the video-game industry, will be completed by mid-2023.
“We are committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal,” he wrote in a blog post.
On Friday, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wrote in a memo to U.S. employees, “With the [Raven Software union] election having concluded, we will engage in good-faith negotiations to enter into a collective bargaining agreement.”
On May 23, the QA team at Wisconsin-based Raven Software successfully formed a CWA-affiliated union called the Game Workers Alliance. The union said at the time, “We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”
Previously, Activision Blizzard had refused to voluntarily recognize the Raven Software union. Last month, after the employees voted to unionize, company rep had 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 Raven employees,” referring to the number of staffers who voted to unionize.
An open letter posted on the Game Workers Alliance’s website addressed to “Activision Blizzard leadership” says, in part, “Following the layoffs that began on December 3, 2021, it has become apparent that the current working conditions have become untenable. These firings came after eight months of assurances that restructuring and increased wages were being negotiated. All of the twelve employees were top performers, all of whom were crucial to the ongoing health of our title, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ – which generates over five million dollars in revenue per day. This event is but one instance of the company breaking the trust it has requested of us — and is only one contributing factor that has led us to organizing.”
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