Activision Leaves Union Workers Out of Game Testers’ Pay Raise

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Activision Leaves Union Workers Out of Game Testers’ Pay Raise
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Activision Blizzard may have given nearly 1,100 of its part-time video game testers full-time jobs complete with pay raises, but the move notably excludes Activision employees who are seeking to form the first certified labor union at a major North American game publisher.

On Thursday, the Santa Monica-based game developer announced that it would be converting the part-time and contract quality assurance testers into full-time roles, complete with $20 minimum hourly salaries and access to full benefits. In a statement, Activision said the decision followed “a process that began last year”—one that initially converted 500 temporary workers across Activision’s studios into full-time roles—and will now “increase [Activision Publishing]’s total full-time staff by 25%.”


While the move promises to benefit many Activision part-timers and contractors, it also leaves out employees at Activision’s recently unionized Raven Software division in Wisconsin, who handle much of the testing for the company’s blockbuster “Call of Duty” title. While Activision noted that all Raven quality testers “are full-time and already have access to full company benefits,” it added that they are ineligible for the pay raises, as well, because of their ongoing labor organizing efforts.

Raven Software vice president Brian Raffel told The Verge that Activision was excluding Raven workers from the raises “due to our legal obligations under the National Labor Labor Relations Act,” which he said prohibits the company “from making new kinds of compensation changes at Raven at this time.”

In a statement, the Communications Workers of America union, which represents Raven Software’s Game Workers Alliance union, told dot.LA that it disagrees with Activision’s interpretation, which it described as “especially galling” given the Wisconsin studio’s efforts to organize for better working conditions.

“[Activision]’s assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their effort to form a union,” the CWA said. “Activision’s disingenuous announcement is further evidence of the need for workers to have a protected voice on the job. We strongly urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and respect Raven [quality assurance] workers’ protected right to organize under the law.”

In an online statement, Raven Software’s Game Workers Alliance union said that Activision’s “decision to exclude us… is their attempt to divide workers and undermine our right to unionize.”

Last month, Microsoft, which is in the midst of acquiring Activision in a $69 billion deal, said that it would not block unionization efforts at the company. Still, the Seattle tech giant stopped short of saying it would voluntarily recognize any union—and as Raven Software workers noted in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the terms of the merger prohibit Activision from doing so without Microsoft’s consent.
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