NLRB Finds Activision Blizzard Withheld Raises for Unionizing Workers

According to TechCrunch, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Activision Blizzard, an interactive gaming and entertainment company, engaged in unlawful retaliation against Raven Software employees who formed a union. Raven Software is a studio owned by Activision.

TechCrunch reported that, in January, a quality assurance team at Raven Software, one of the studios behind the Call of Duty franchise, announced their intent to form a union, marking the first formation of a union at a major U.S. gaming company. The NLRB Activision Blizzard attempted to block the union since it was only made of the 28-person quality assurance department rather than the entirety of Raven Software, which has 230 employees.

TechCrunch said that the quality assurance department at Raven Software that unionized took the name of Game Workers Alliance, or GWA. Their union vote passed in May of 2022. During GWA’s unionization process, Activision Blizzard promoted over 1,000 quality assurance contractors to full-time employees and increased their minimum wage hourly rate to $20 an hour.

Despite the number of individuals who were delegated wage increases, the quality assurance employees at Raven Software were not given them. Activision Blizzard cited laws under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), claiming that they could not change pay rates while the employees were under a unionization effort. The Communication Workers of America, a representative of GWA, called this move by Activision Blizzard “a disingenuous attempt at union busting.”

Most recently, the NLRB declared Activision Blizzard’s move of withholding wages illegal. This declaration will influence any collective bargaining agreements made between the union and Activision Blizzard. Often times formally recognized unions may negotiate for over a year before coming to agreements with their management.

GWA commented on the recent events, telling TechCrunch that “Despite their best efforts, Activision’s constant attempts to undermine its workers’ and impede our union election have failed. We’re glad the NLRB recognized that Activision acted illegally when they unequally enforced policies by withholding company-wide benefits and wage increases from Raven workers for organizing.”

Activision Blizzard has recently faced allegations of sexual harassment. The company is set to be acquired by Microsoft next year, pending regulatory approval.