Activision employee group forms union, a first in video games – Orange County Register

By Jason Schreier | Bloomberg

Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard will include an sudden and maybe unwelcome addition: a small group of unionized employees.

About three dozen individuals who work for an Activision-owned studio agreed to kind the Recreation Employees Alliance Union, representatives for the group stated Friday. They requested Activision to voluntarily acknowledge their union standing. It will be the primary union at a publicly-traded online game writer.

The group consists of 34 high quality assurance testers at Activision’s Wisconsin-based Raven Software program, a workforce liable for guaranteeing new content material for Name of Responsibility video games runs easily and with out errors. It’s a part of the Communications Employees of America, the most important union within the media trade.

A spokesman for Activision stated the corporate is reviewing the request for recognition.

“Whereas we imagine {that a} direct relationship between the corporate and its workforce members delivers the strongest workforce alternatives, we deeply respect the rights of all workers below the regulation to make their very own choices about whether or not or to not be part of a union,” the spokesman stated in an emailed assertion.

For years, individuals from throughout the online game trade have proposed organizing as an answer to unhealthy work environments. Burnout is a prevalent challenge in gaming, introduced on by a tradition of overwork, sexism and little job safety. Employers haven’t embraced employees’ flirtations with unionizing, however final month, workers of a small unbiased studio known as Vodeo Video games grew to become the primary to prepare in North America.

Learn extra: Blizzard turned game developers into rock stars, misbehavior followed

Activision has been mired in scandal since California sued the company last summer for claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. Employees on the firm started handing out union playing cards final month, triggering a warning from administration that workers ought to “take time to contemplate the implications of your signature on the binding authorized doc offered to you.”

Employees at Activision’s Raven Software program went on strikes beginning Dec. 6 in protest of the corporate’s intent to dismiss a dozen contract testers. High quality assurance testers are usually paid the least of any recreation builders and are generally handled as disposable. At Raven, testers are continuously requested to work extra time and have talked of going nights and weekends for months straight.

The Activision spokesman stated the corporate has over the previous couple of years raised minimal compensation for Raven testers by 41%, prolonged paid day off and expanded medical advantages entry to employees and their spouses.

Microsoft stated this week that it’s going to purchase Activision for $68.7 billion. Unionization at huge tech firms like Microsoft is uncommon. When a 38-person group of Microsoft bug testers organized in 2014, the corporate finally dismissed them.

Administration at Activision hasn’t acknowledged the Raven strike or responded to particular requests from the employees, representatives for the Recreation Employees Alliance Union stated.

“It’s extraordinarily vital that employees have an actual seat on the desk to positively form the corporate going ahead,” Brent Reel, high quality assurance lead at Raven, stated in an announcement.

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