Nearly two months after Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced that the company will finally begin negotiating its first alliance contract with Game Workers Union at Raven Softwareemployee at Blizzard Albany, currently working Diablo IV, saying that the publisher is back trying to go bankrupt. They accuse Activision Blizzard of hiring law firm Reed Smith to sabotage their own organizational efforts rather than voluntary recognition of the company’s second union.
“Instead of following Microsoft’s lead and committing to a labor-neutral agreement, Activision made the clear and conscious decision to deny our basic labor rights while again spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a company that sabotages the union,” said Albany Game worker Alliance, which organizes for things like better pay, healthcare, and work/life balance, along with other matters, wrote in a press release Wednesday. The team said Activision Blizzard is re-enlisting the help of Reed Smith, an organization that provides “avoid unionsService, in a “futile attempt” to “delay recognition.” As the workers recounted, Reed Smith intended to urge the National Labor Relations Board to deny the union rights of individual QA teams.
When asked to comment, the Call of Duty publishing company did not say why they rehired law firm Reed Smith or how much they paid, but they did confirm they would once again push for a studio-wide vote on the merger. “Given the significant impact this change could have on about 150 people in Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions), we believe that every Albany employee working on Diablo should have a direct say in the decision. this provision; It should not be done by less than 15% of employees,” company spokesman Rich George wrote in an emailed statement.
The Albany-based team is an integrated team that shares a focus on the same game franchise and works on related game features and functionality. These employees share considerable common ground in their work, and it is essential to maintain cohesion throughout complex game development and production.
This is the same playbook the company released last time when Raven Software first sought to merge. It first integrates QA staff directly into other departments within the broader studio and then it argues that for one reason and another the entire studio should vote for a union rather than just the people in QA supported it. In the end, the NLRB sided with the workers, but it still delayed the proceedings for months.
In the meantime, Activision Blizzard worked with Reed Smith, an international company proud on its website at the time help companies avoid and resist consolidation. It even holds a PowerPoint Presentation on its website which includes slides on how unions seek exploiting lazy workers and strategies to convince workers that unions are a bad idea. That presentation has been deleted.
Activision Blizzard’s new battle against unity comes just two months after Microsoft, now preparing to acquire it for $69 billion, declared it would remain “neutral” about the union’s efforts to move forward. As part of a campaign to get regulatory approval for the biggest tech acquisition in history, it looks like it could also signal a new book for Activision. Obviously not. This agreement is expected to close before June 2023.