Activision-Blizzard-King (ABK) have responded to the news that workers at Raven Software have this week successfully voted to unionize, with a spokesperson for the publishing giant attempting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the group.
The statement from ABK, reported in GamesIndustryBiz, is very much a statement of two halves. The first sentence appears fairly benign, with ABK’s mouthpiece saying that "We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union.”
However, in the second part of the two-line message we get the attempt to delegitimize the move, with ABK saying that "We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees." This is in reference to the fact that the ‘bargaining group’ representing Raven employees is just 21 strong.
ABK have consistently faced accusations they have tried to hamper and stymie attempts by Raven Software Quality Assurance (QA) staff to create a collective bargaining group, known as the Game Workers Alliance, since the idea was first floated in January.
NLRB are on Board with Game Workers Alliance
It is important to note that the National Labor Relations Board, which is an independent agency of the federal government responsible for enforcing U.S. labor law in relation to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices, is perfectly happy with the collective that Raven has nominated to speak for them. Just last month the NLRB rejected an attempt by ABK to not recognize the Raven Software group union election.
This is far from the first hurdle ABK have erected in the path of the Raven Software employees attempting to unionize. After a refusal by ABK to recognize Raven’s initial attempt to create a collective bargaining group, the publisher made structural changes that in theory would make it even harder for Raven QA to create such a collective, embedding staff in different departments.
There has also been internal messaging circulated about the potential for unionization to harm the business and their ability ‘to create great games’. Even the potential takeover from Microsoft isn’t guaranteed to make things better for ABK employees, with the buyer saying it will only recognize the Games Worker Alliance if ABK does.