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Call of Duty workers vote to unionize in industry first

Quality assurance (QA) testers at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software have formed a union after an official vote. The vote was 19-3 in favor of formation, creating the first union of its kind at a AAA developer.

Digital Trends observed the Call of Duty: Warzone developer’s ballot count digitally: 28 people were eligible to vote, although only 24 voted. Two votes were challenged and made invalid. Still, 19-3 was enough to ensure the vote was in favor of unionization.

This vote comes more than 10 months after Activision Blizzard’s workplace issues were first exposed and five months after Raven Software abruptly laid off several Raven Software QA testers after promising them an increase in wages. That latter event caused these QA testers to walk out and eventually try to unionize. While Activision Blizzard did not voluntarily recognize the Game Workers Alliance (CWA), the National Labor Relations Board was on the side of the QA testers and allowed them to hold this vote, which will force Activision to recognize CWA.

The logo for Raven Software's union.

Activision has frequently attempted to stop the formation of this union, dispersing the QA developers throughout different departments at Raven and filing two appeals to the National Labor Relations Board, but was unable to stop these workers from unionizing. This is an unprecedented, significant win for North American game developers at AAA studios looking to unionize.

Still, this saga is far from over. First off, the union still has to fully establish and figure out how it will work and bargain within Raven Software. Activision Blizzard may also continue to face legal scrutiny as FTC investigates its acquisition by Microsoft, the National Labor Relations Board prepares to issue a complaint about Activision Blizzard allegedly illegally threatening staff, and Jessica Gonzalez appeals the settlement between Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Activision Blizzard.

Regardless, this is a massive first step for game industry unionization, not just at Activision Blizzard’s studios but at all North American game developers and publishers of all sizes.

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