On January 27th, the Communication Workers of America filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a union election among the Quality Assurance workers at Raven Software in Middleton. The workers there had announced the formation of their union, the Game Workers Alliance, a local of the CWA, the previous week and asked management for voluntary recognition of the union. Management did not respond to the request.
While the union says that they have a supermajority of the roughly 34 workers in the unit, the election could take more than 10 weeks to be conducted. In many unionization campaigns, the period between public announcement and election can be very difficult for the fledgling union. This is a period where management typically applies heavy pressure to stop the campaign. Already, management has broken apart the QA division, a move that the CWA said was “nothing more than a tactic to thwart Raven QA workers who are exercising their right to organize.”
If the Game Workers Alliance succeeds in their election, they will be the first union at a major US video game studio to have recognized collective bargaining.
The CWA has also filed a complaint with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, over a proposed acquisition of Raven’s parent company by Microsoft. On January 18th, Microsoft announced their intention to purchase Activision Blizzard for $67.8billion. However, the CWA says in their complaint that Activision Blizzard had “inaccurate and misleading disclosures” in their Form 8-K that the company submitted to the SEC on January 19th.
In the form, Activision Blizzard stated that they were unaware of any attempts by workers to organize a union, that there were no strikes or work actions at its locations, and that there was no unfair labor practice complaint against the company. The CWA contends in their complaint that all three of these statements are false.
There was been public union organizing at Activision Blizzard since at least the summer of 2021, when over a thousand workers across the company’s many locations walked out over issues of sexual harassment in the company. Workers at that time launched the A Better ABK organizing group. In September of 2021, the CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company. At the time of the company filing the form, workers at Raven were also still on strike, a strike that did not end until January 22.
The CWA says that, “as a result of these omissions, readers of Activision’s merger filing may be misled into believing that the company’s well-document workplace disputes … have been comprehensively resolved” and that “Activision may have acted with an improper motive to conceal the true status of its workplace disputes.”
The news of Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard was followed up on Monday of this week by the news that Sony has a deal to purchase the video game studio Bungie for $3.6billion. Bloomberg news reports that the Fair Trade Commission will be leading an investigation into whether the Microsoft-Activision deal violates any anti-trust laws.
Reporting Courtesy of Scot McCullough
Image Courtesy of The Pop Culture Geek Network on Flickr