New Activision QA union is the largest in the video game industry

Technology

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella arrives to court in San Francisco on June 28, 2023. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard CEOs are expected to testify to persuade a federal judge in California to reject the Federal Trade Commission’s effort to block their $69 billion deal.

Shelby Knowles | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of roughly 600 software testers at Activision on Friday formed the U.S. video game industry’s largest union so far.

The union is the first to organize under a new labor agreement negotiated as part of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision in October, the company’s largest takeover yet.

The agreement required Microsoft to remain neutral about employees who express interest in unionizing and provide adequate lines of communication and information for those workers to decide. That labor neutrality agreement took effect after the Microsoft-Activision deal closed in October following months of regulatory pushback.

“We maintained our commitment to remain neutral during the organizing campaign, and following this vote,” Microsoft lawyer Amy Pannoni said in a statement.

In January, Microsoft laid off 1,900 workers in its gaming division.

Activision Quality Assurance United-CWA, the name of the union, is seeking higher wages and more career opportunities, QA tester Kara Fannon said in a statement.

The employees, who work for Activision’s quality assurance division in California, Texas and Minnesota, joined the Communications Workers of America to form their record-breaking alliance.

“Microsoft continues to keep its commitment to let workers decide for themselves whether they want a union,” said CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. in a statement.

Labor organizing in the tech industry has proliferated over the years as Big Tech firms have grown and come under more scrutiny for worker protections.

QA workers at Activision, who vet games for glitches and bugs, have particularly emphasized the need for labor protections, noticing their roles feeling undervalued compared to software engineers or developers.

Before the Microsoft-Activision deal closed, QA workers at the video game-maker’s Albany branch had also formed a union.

“QA is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries,” the Albany wrote on social media at the time. “We strive to foster work environments where we are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process.”

Read original article here.

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