Workers at a division of video game company Activision Blizzard voted to unionize, creating the first union at a major games company in the United States.
On Monday, a small group of Wisconsin-based quality assurance testers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software, which develops the popular Call of Duty game franchise, voted 19 to 3 in favor of unionization.
Although the group of around 20 workers represents a small part of the company, which employs nearly 10,000 workers worldwide, the vote marks a symbolic victory for workers’ rights advocates in an increasingly mired industry. by allegations of abuse and poor working conditions.
The campaign to organize Raven’s office workers was part of a larger internal reshuffle at Activision Blizzard, a gaming giant based in Santa Monica, Calif., after it was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment.
The lawsuit alleged a workplace where sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and a “frat boy” culture — where men objectified women’s bodies and openly joked about rape — were rampant. In the fallout from the lawsuit, Microsoft decided to buy the company for nearly $69 billion. He recently settled a separate federal civil rights lawsuit over allegations that management ignored sexual harassment and workplace discrimination against female employees.
Microsoft said it would not interfere with any organizing efforts.
The Milwaukee office of the National Labor Relations Board counted the mail-in ballots Monday afternoon via videoconference. An NLRB regional director had ordered an election in May after rejecting pressure from Activision to include a broader category of Raven workers, which could have diluted the union group’s vote.
Activision Blizzard said in a statement Monday that it respects workers’ right to vote on a union, but criticized how those workers were ranked.
“We believe that any major decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of approximately 350 employees should not be made by less than 10% of Raven employees,” the company said.