In the activation blizzard, the ‘Call of Duty’ workers voted to form a union

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A small group of Activision Blizzard workers voted to unite in a studio that operates the popular “Call of Duty” franchise, the second victory in organizing the video gaming industry.

According to a poll by US National Labor Relations (NLRB) officials on Monday, employees of Raven Software’s Quality Assurance Division in Middleton, Wisconsin, voted 19-3 to join the American Communication Workers (CWA).

The union must negotiate and reach an agreement with Activation. According to the CWA, the vote does not need to be re-validated if the Microsoft Activation acquisition plan succeeds.

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“We respect the rights of all employees and believe that they will decide whether to support or vote for a union. We believe that an important decision that will affect the entire Raven software studio of about 350 people should not be taken by 19 Raven employees, “Activision said in a statement after the vote.

Wisconsin is a right-to-work state, meaning anyone can choose not to join a trade union.

Employees speak out after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. They have walked out in protest of the company’s response to complaints from quality assurance testers and layoffs. Employees have filed a petition calling for the removal of CEO Bobby Kotik.

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In the larger market, workers are becoming more vocal and proactive about better pay and working conditions.

John Logan, a professor of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, said: “Employees in this sector are overworked and underpaid and considered disposable, which probably goes against the image of technology workers in the public eye.” The only way to gain respect is to be united.

In December, Vodio became North America’s first video game studio to secure union representation with workers.

Employees of an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, recently voted to form a union, and employees of an Apple Store in Atlanta have filed a petition to elect a union.

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Employees at more than 58 U.S. Starbucks cafes have voted to join Workers United, with at least four stores voting against the union, with more than 262 seeking to vote since last August.

“Of course there is a lot of energy and optimism, especially among the young staff at the moment,” Logan said.

In Wisconsin, according to the organizers’ official Twitter account, organizers called for a healthier work environment with realistic development deadlines, appropriate compensation and career development opportunities in an industry where quality assurance is underestimated.

The number of ballots received was 24 out of 28 eligible voters. There were two challenging ballots, not enough to change the outcome of the vote.

“Other employees in the video game industry will be excited and inspired by the success of Raven Software workers in forming their unions. We call on Activation to honor their decision and to negotiate a fair deal,” CWA said in a statement before the vote.

(Reporting by Dinsola Oladipore in New York; Additional reporting by Hillary Ross; Editing by Lisa Schumacher)



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