Activision Blizzard Criminally Held Back Raises From Unionizing Workers

The National Labor Relations Board has found this new twist in the tale.

When we talk about the major players in the gaming industry, Activision Blizzard is one name that always comes up. The holding company has two major gaming studios in the form of Blizzard Entertainment and Activision Studios under its belt. With the games both of these possess, it’s hard to keep them out of the news.

But, Activision Blizzard has been in the main headlines way too much this year. Whether it is about one of the biggest acquisitions in gaming history or Call of Duty, gamers are always talking about them. However, one of the gaming world’s goliaths has been part of controversy too.

Employees of Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard subsidiary, making the gaming world’s first union have been a major story this year. And safe to say, the company has been the major bad guy throughout this whole saga. Now, a new report tells us that perception is not going away anytime soon.

Major Takeaways:

  • Activision Blizzard withheld raises from union workers. 
  • The NLRB has ruled in the union’s decision as this was illegal.
  • Negotiations are going on between the union and the company for a bargaining agreement.

Apparently, in retaliation to this new union, Activision Blizzard withheld raises from employees of Raven Software. Washington Post first reported this indicting story of the company. This scoop came as a result of the investigation the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducted.

Raven Softwares Quality Assurance (QA) department formed a union earlier this year in January. During this process, Activision Blizzard made a move to increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour. However, the workers at Raven Software were not among the workers who got this raise. 

The Communications Workers of America, who represents the union, think that it was done as a result of this union. Activision Blizzard tried to bust the union in this illegal manner according to them. But, the company holds a different view as spokesperson Rich George goes on to say:

Due to legal obligations under the [National Labor Relations Act] requiring employers not to grant wage increases while an election was pending, we could not institute new pay initiatives at Raven.

So, Activision Blizzard phrased the story like this saying it was law and has been for many years. But the QA union called Game Workers Alliance (GWA) and NLRB do not see it in that way. The laboring body ruled in the favour of the union concerning this case. 

Activision Blizzard held back raises in an illegal manner that was not correct. Hence, this is a preliminary win for the union according to the former chairman of NLRB. The union will use it to get the upper hand in the ongoing negotiations. 

Even though the union formed almost a year ago, a bargaining agreement is still not present between GWA and Activision Blizzard. It does take most unions this much time to reach an agreement so this isn’t unusual. Sara Steffens from the Communications Workers of America said:

We just want the company to bargain in good faith, bargain a fair contract, and move past all this cheap and illegal behavior.

Raven Software QA made history this year by making the first-ever union at a major gaming company. The vote passed by a hefty 19-3 margin and resulted in the formation of this union. Activision Blizzard is also under fire for the efforts they made to stop this.

COO Daniel Alegre tried to meet with the workers so they could make their complaints, which is illegal. 12 QA testers were also laid off as a part of this union busting. So, Activision Blizzard has been anything but good during this whole ordeal. 

With the sexual misconduct allegations at the company, which Bobby Kotick knew about, this is only getting worse. A lot of reshuffling is happening with some saying Bobby Kotick will step down next year. But hopefully, the result is whatever helps the workers.

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The Washington Post

Ahmed Mansoor is a News Writer who has a deep passion for single-player adventure games. He loves to keep tabs on the gaming and technology industries and loves to break stories that interest his audience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and several years of experience writing for games. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Journalism || Written 600+ News Stories.

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