Activision Blizzard workers vote to unionize, a first for a large U.S. video game company

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Video game workers at a division of game publisher Activision Blizzard are waiting to find out if they’ve formed the first labor union at a large U.S. video game company.

A count of ballots on Monday will reveal the results of an election affecting a small group of Wisconsin-based quality assurance testers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software, which develops the popular Call of Duty game franchise.

The unionization campaign by employees at Raven’s office in Middleton, Wisconsin, has been part of a broader internal shakeup at Activision Blizzard, a Santa Monica, California-based gaming giant with roughly 10,000 employees worldwide.

The game publisher — which Microsoft is in the process of buying for nearly $69 billion — has come under fire from the government and some shareholders, and it recently settled a federal civil rights lawsuit over allegations that management ignored sexual harassment and workplace discrimination against female employees.


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Microsoft has said it wouldn’t interfere in any unionization efforts.

The Milwaukee office of the National Labor Relations Board is scheduled to count the mailed-in ballots on Monday afternoon. A regional NLRB director ordered a May election after rejecting Activision’s push to have it encompass a wider category of Raven workers — which could have diluted the unionizing group’s vote.

Activision Blizzard said in a statement Monday that it respected the right of workers to vote on a union but criticized the way those workers were being classified.

“We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 employees should not be made by fewer than 10% of Raven employees,” the company said.

Interest in organized labor has increased during the pandemic, igniting historic unionization movements at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Apple. These efforts come amid nationwide labor shortages and as a record number of Americans quit their jobs, providing more leverage to workers who want to unionize.



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