Call Of Duty Developers At Raven Software Seek To Form A Union, Asking For Recognition From Activision

The Game Workers Alliance currently has 34 members and is looking to be recognized by management.

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A group of testers at Call of Duty studio Raven Software, which is owned by Activision, have formally begun the process of creating a union. The quality assurance developers are working with the Communication Workers of America union to create a guild called Game Workers Alliance. This is happening just days after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard and all of its studios, including Raven.

"The voices of workers should be heard by leadership. By uniting in solidarity, we can ensure our message is further reaching, and more effective," the organization said on social media.

The group has 34 members right now, according to reporter Jason Schreier. The group is seeking to become among the first video game industry unions in North America. Some of the QA staff at Raven Software, a Call of Duty co-developer that contributes to Call of Duty: Warzone and other projects, have been on strike in some form since before the holidays. Activision has since delayed the launch of new Call of Duty content, including the start of Season 2 for Warzone and Vanguard, though whether or not this is connected directly to the walk-outs at Raven is unclear.

The group outlined its principles across a series of tweets. The Game Workers Alliance is calling for transparency from management regarding decisions that will affect the working lives of employees and for managers to work towards "realistic timelines and development plans" to help avoid "crunch." This is the industry term for extended periods of overtime.

"Crunch is not healthy for any product, worker, or company," the group said.

The organization added that quality assurance testers at Raven "deserve respect, appropriate compensation, and career development opportunities."

"Quality Assurance is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries. We strive to foster work environments where Quality Assurance Testers are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process," the group said.

The Game Workers Alliance also holds a principle focused around diversity. "All voices deserve to be heard. Empowering underrepresented voices is key to fostering a truly creative and successful work environment," it said.

The union is asking for management at Raven Software and Activision to recognize the union and to not retaliate or interfere with the effort to do so. "We aim to work together with leadership to create a healthy and prosperous work environment for all people, to develop successful and sustainable products, and to support the enjoyment of our players," it said.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard released a statement to GameSpot on the matter, saying it is "carefully reviewing" the petition for a union at Raven Software. The full statement follows below.

Activision Blizzard is carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition from the CWA, which seeks to organize around three dozen of the company’s nearly 10,000 employees. While we believe that a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities, we deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union.

Across Activision Blizzard, we remain focused on listening closely to our employees and providing the improved pay, benefits and professional opportunities needed to attract and retain the world’s best talent. Over the past couple of years, this has included raising minimum compensation for Raven QA employees by 41%, extending paid time off, expanding access to medical benefits for employees and significant others, and transitioning more than 60% of temporary Raven QA staff into full-time employees.

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