Raven Software QA workers can vote to unionize as the NLRB rules in their favor

If a supermajority is reached, the Games Workers Alliance will be an officially recognized union.

After Activision's refusal to recognize the Games Workers Alliance as a union voluntarily, Raven Software’s quality assurance employees have won their bid for recognition and election from the NLRB, and will vote on whether or not to unionize this coming month.

Last week, Polygonreported that the National Labor Relations Board ruled “the employers organizational changes do not require dismissal of the petition,” meaning that despite Activision’s efforts to have the voting dismissed, it has categorically failed.

Polygon also reports that a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard provided the following statement, regarding the decision: 

“While we respect the NLRB process, we are disappointed that a decision that could significantly impact the future of our entire studio will be made by fewer than 10% of our employees. We believe a direct relationship with team members is the best path to achieving individual and company goals. We are reviewing legal options regarding a potential appeal.”

The voting will take place once the workers receive their ballots, which are set to be mailed out on April 29, with the votes to be counted on May 23. If the vote succeeds, the Game Workers Alliance will become only the second official games industry union in North America. The first is Vodeo Workers United, which formed late last year

It’s been a long, tumultuous road for QA workers at Raven, and across Activision Blizzard, and this ruling undoubtedly validates their efforts for a better work environment for them--and all QA employees at Activision Blizzard. 

“Thank you to everyone supporting our campaign since our initial strike up until this very moment!” said the Games Workers Alliance on Twitter. “Time for democracy!” 

What started with Activision Blizzardlaying off a number of contract QA workers, and the subsequent walkout, has led to what could very likely be looked back on as a turning point for the games industry. 

Much as Activision Blizzard has struggled, it at least looks like it's beginning to make positive changes. In its hiring of Kristen Hines, and in the recent transitioning of all temporary QA workers to full time employees. Hopefully these actions will bring about change for the publisher, though it is still worth remembering that its issues are far from over. 

A lawyer who previously worked on the Activision Blizzard case for the state alleged that California’s own governor was interfering in the case to benefit Activision by potentially keeping the company abreast of the DFEH’s strategy, so it may better prepare.

Meanwhile, this win for the Games Workers Alliance has bigger ramifications across the industry, as more and more organization by game developers is being discussed. It also sends a message to big players like Sony and Nintendo, both of whom have had accusations recently launched towards them for poor working environments and practices.

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News Writer

David Carcasole is a freelance games journalist whose work has appeared in GamesIndustry.Biz, [lock-on], Into the Spine, and others. Find him on Twitter @SlyBowser, where he’s likely pining for the days when PS Vita games were still in development.