Raven Software QA Testers Win Vote to Unionize

SOPA Images/GettyImages

The 28 quality assurance testers at Activision Blizzard's Raven Software have won a vote to unionize their workplace, overcoming the anti-unionization run by Activision Blizzard.

The Milwaukee office of the National Labor Relations Board counted ballots submitted by Raven QA testers Monday, reaching a final tally of 19 votes in favor of unionization and three against. The resulting union, the Game Workers Alliance, is now the first legally recognized union at a major video game publisher in the U.S.

QA testers at Raven Software announced their intent to unionize as the Game Workers Alliance in January in the midst of a strike protesting the firing of 12 members of the team. Activision Blizzard let the chance to voluntarily recognize the union pass, leading the group of QA workers to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board and initiate a union election.

Activision Blizzard tried to argue the entire studio should have to vote on the formation of the union, but the NLRB rejected its argument. The company stepped up other efforts to stamp out the union drive, emailing employees and warning them that unions "could hurt our ability to continue creating great games." Another email included an attachment reading "Please vote no."

Raven also reorganized the studio, dissolving QA as a discrete team and embedding individual members in the studio's other teams — animation, art and so on. But Raven organizers held firm.

Raven Software QA tester Becka Aigner told the Washington Post, "The outcome of this election, the voice of the people coming together to vote yes for this union, is further validation that even a small group of folks in Madison, Wisconsin standing together in solidarity can face up against a AAA studio giant like Activision, and come out the other side victorious.

"Now that the fight for recognition is through, we can focus our efforts on negotiations. We'll fight for respect, fight for better wages, better benefits, better work-life balance, fight for sustainability and job security, and continue to fight for our fellow workers in solidarity."

Activision Blizzard was less enthusiastic about the result of the vote.

"We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 of Raven employees," it told the Post. "We're committed to doing what's best for the studio and our employees."