Middleton, Wisconsin — Today workers at Raven Software, a video game studio under Activision Blizzard, announced the launch of their union, Game Workers Alliance Union (CWA), with Communications Workers of America. Workers at Raven’s quality assurance department requested voluntary recognition from Activision Blizzard management in alignment with the desire of a supermajority of their workforce. Game Workers Alliance (CWA) is the first unit within Activision Blizzard to form a union. Microsoft recently announced plans to acquire the company.
“Today, I am proud to join with a supermajority of my fellow workers to build our union, Game Workers Alliance (CWA). In the video game industry, specifically Raven QA, people are passionate about their jobs and the content they are creating. We want to make sure that the passion from these workers is accurately reflected in our workplace and the content we make. Our union is how our collective voices can be heard by leadership,” said Becka Aigner, QA functional tester II at Raven.
Since its founding in 1990, Raven Software has become one of the most exclusive video game companies. The studio, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard in 1997, is responsible for the Call of Duty series, which the Raven QA team predominantly works on.
“We formed the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) because my colleagues and I want to have our voices heard and we want to see changes that reflect the wants and needs of both the gaming community and the workers who create these incredible products. It’s extremely important that workers have a real seat at the table to positively shape the company going forward,” said Brent Reel, QA Lead at Raven.
The Game Workers Alliance (CWA) launch came on the heels of Raven QA workers entering week five of their strike. The strike began December 6, when over 60 Raven Software workers walked out in protest after Activision Blizzard laid off 12 of the studio’s quality assurance testers. The Raven QA strike was the third work stoppage since Activision Blizzard was sued in late July over sexual harassment and misconduct claims.
“Raven QA workers are taking an important next step toward improving their working conditions by joining together in a union, and we are excited to be supporting their efforts. We ask that Activision Blizzard management respect Raven QA workers by voluntarily recognizing CWA's representation without hesitation," said Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. "A collective bargaining agreement will give Raven QA employees a voice at work, improving the games they produce and making the company stronger. Voluntary recognition is the rational way forward.”
Instead of collaborating with workers organizing to improve workplace conditions, Activision Blizzard has used surveillance and intimidation tactics, including hiring notorious union busters, to silence workers. Still, members of Game Workers Alliance (CWA) are hopeful Activision Blizzard management will come to the table and formally recognize the union.
“Our union will help inform what is best for Activision Blizzard as a company, as a platform for gamers and a workplace where all workers can thrive. The goal of the Game Workers Alliance (CWA) is to represent what we as workers in the industry want as well as set a new standard for workers across the industry moving forward,” said Erin Hall, QA functional tester II at Raven.
Game Workers Alliance (CWA) will provide a structure so that workers can actively push for real changes at the company to ensure just working conditions, wages, benefits and transparency on the job without fear of retaliation.
Follow Game Workers Alliance (CWA) at @WeAreGWA
The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) is a network of worker-organizers and their staff working every single day to build the voice and power necessary to ensure the future of the tech, game, and digital industries in the United States and Canada. CODE-CWA is a project of the Communications Workers of America which represents hundreds of thousands of workers throughout tech, media, telecom, and other industries who stand together to fight for justice on the job and in our communities.