In January, QA workers at Raven Software formed the first videogame industry union at a major North American studio. The Game Workers Alliance was created following a labor rights strike that began in December, and a supermajority of employees voted in favor of it. That means it can be formalized through the US National Labor Relations Board whether it receives management recognition or not, but the union requested official voluntary recognition anyway. Activision Blizzard chose not to give it.
The union formed in the same month that Microsoft announced it was acquiring Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. As the Washington Post reports, this week 15 workers at Raven signed a letter calling on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to give Activision Blizzard a nudge in the right direction.
The letter also takes Activision Blizzard’s law firm Reed Smith to task for anti-union material on its website. “I hope that you will agree that this demeaning and insulting approach to employees who are seeking to improve their workplace should not be tolerated,” the letter says.
Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, Lisa Tanzi, gave a statement to the Washington Post in response, saying that the company “will not stand in the way” if Activision Blizzard’s management does recognize a union. “Microsoft respects Activision Blizzard employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a labor organization and we will honor those decisions,” Tanzi said.