- Daily Zen
Activision workers moving to unionize face an unexpected restructuring blocking their way.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) minced no words as she wrote to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick to “negotiate in good faith with the workers and suspend any efforts to undermine your employees’ legal right to form a union and collectively bargain.”
Activision employees have been actively pushing for unionization for some time now.
Recently, on February 16, workers and management of the Activision-owned Raven Software argued in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) meeting over who should be allowed to vote in the decision regarding forming a union.
The latest meeting was held over Zoom and the NLRB heard both sides’ arguments on who qualifies to vote over the proposal. In January, 34 quality assurance workers at Raven Software, based in Wisconsin, requested recognition of a union, but received no support from management. The management has insisted that unionization should include all employees, and not just from the quality division. During voting, over 50% votes are required to form a union.
Workers cited recent layoffs, excessive work, and low pay as the triggers for unionizing. Meanwhile, Activision informed The Washington Post that they “look forward to the NLRB’s decision.”
As per a new report, Wisconsin has seen one of the steepest drops in unionized workforce in over two decades. The Wisconsin Policy Forum reported that last year the number of unionized workers in the state fell to 7.9%, well below the national average of 10.3%.
Senator Baldwin’s letter will build public pressure on the game maker which has been plagued by sexual harassment scandals in the past few years. It also puts the spotlight on a company that initially refused to approve of its workers’ demand to unionize.
The senator informed Activision that she “will be following the proceedings at the National Labor Relations Board and Raven Software closely. I urge you and the management at Raven Software to remain neutral in the coming NLRB election in order to allow your employees to decide their representatives for themselves.”
She also expressed concern about the changes made by the management after the workers expressed their desire to form a union. In no uncertain terms, she calls attention to the fact that quality assurance workers have been spread out throughout the organization, sometimes in departments that do not seem to fit the work they do, after they launched the union drive. The quality assurance workers were distributed across animation, art, audio, design, engineering and live operations production departments as of January. This is of particular importance as the quality assurance workers had already reached the majority they needed to unionize. However, the company argued that all Raven employees must be allowed to have a say in the unionization process.
The senator reiterates that she has been following the proceedings with interest and will continue to do so. To sum up, she urges Bobby Kotick to stay neutral as the workers decide on whom they want as their representatives.
In early January 2022, Microsoft acquired Activision-Blizzard for a whopping $68.7 billion. The gaming company is still under investigation for workplace harassment, unequal pay, and mistreating female employees. CEO Bobby Kotick has been in the news for not acting on the information, despite being aware of it, before lawsuits were filed against Activision Blizzard.
Furthermore, Microsoft’s acquisition complicates things for the unionizing workers. As per the recent SEC filing by Activision, the company is not allowed to “voluntarily recognize any labor union, works council or similar employee organization or enter into a collective bargaining agreement” without express approval from the tech giant.
However, despite the agreement, both companies are obligated to comply with NLRB’s decision.