Recently, around 600 workers in Activision Publishing’s quality assurance department have successfully formed a union with the assistance of the Communications Workers of America. This newly formed union, known as Activision Quality Assurance United – CWA, is now the largest video game union in the United States. The unionization process was finalized with the certification of the vote on Friday, March 8th.

One of the key factors that facilitated the unionization of the Activision Quality Assurance workers was Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Following the merger, Microsoft affirmed a labor neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America in 2022. This agreement made it easier for workers to organize not only at Microsoft but also at its subsidiaries, including Activision Blizzard. Tom Shelley, a technical requirements specialist and one of the organizers of the union, highlighted the importance of the labor neutrality agreement in enabling their unionization efforts.

Quality assurance workers play a crucial role in testing games for bugs and other issues before they are released to the public. Despite the significance of their work, QA jobs are often considered entry-level positions, leading to low pay and inadequate labor protections. Tom Shelley emphasized the need for stronger labor protections for QA workers, who are essential to the success of the companies they work for and the games they help create.

Video game labor unions have been gaining momentum in recent years, with more workers recognizing the importance of collective bargaining and organizing. While the rise of unions in the gaming industry is a positive development, workers have also faced challenges, including layoffs and job insecurity. In 2023, the CWA filed an unfair labor complaint against Sega for allegedly planning to phase out temporary employees who were part of the Aegis union formed the previous year. Despite these difficulties, union negotiations were able to save some jobs at Sega.

The formation of the Activision Quality Assurance United – CWA union represents a significant milestone in the video game industry. By organizing and advocating for their rights, quality assurance workers are striving to improve working conditions and labor protections in an industry that often undervalues their contributions. As video game labor unions continue to grow in strength and numbers, it is imperative for workers to stand together and fight for fair treatment and better working conditions in the industry.

Tech

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