The National Labor Relations Board has officially given organizing QA workers at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software approval to vote on a union.
According to The Washington Post, the NLRB made the decision on Friday, stating that it would mail out ballots to eligible Raven Software employees starting next week. QA workers at the company who were employed by the pay period that ended on April 16 to April 29 will be able to take part in the vote.
The vote will be held (via videoconference) on May 23.
This is a massive win for Raven Software’s QA employees, who began organizing after Activision Blizzard laid off several contract QA workers. Those layoffs had been part of a plan to grant full-time employment status to thousands of temporary employees, but QA workers still at the company were not satisfied with Activision Blizzard’s actions.
For its part, Activision Blizzard did its best to ensure today’s NLRB decision would never come to pass. It first refused to voluntarily recognize the union, then argued to the NLRB that any organizing unit should be made up of all Raven Software employees, not just QA workers.
Since the organizing workers began their efforts, Activision Blizzard both reorganized the structure of Raven Software’s QA team (embedding them with other departments) and denied organizing workers the improved benefits it was offering to temporary employees being converted to full-time employees (it may have had legal grounds for doing so, we should note).
The Raven Software QA unionization effort even attracted the eye of U.S politicians like senator Tammy Baldwin, who sent a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to “not interfere” with the process.
In a statement, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Game Developer that though it “respects the NLRB process,” it remains “disappointed” in the decision and intends to file an appeal. “We are disappointed that a decision that could significantly impact the future of our entire studio will be made by fewer than 10 percent of our employees.”
The Washington Post also added that Raven Software employees received a message today from president Brian Rafell that the company would hold a town hall next week to discuss “next steps.”