Microsoft makes a big bet that it can fix Activision Blizzard's troubled culture


A bunch of high quality assurance employees at Raven Software, a gaming studio owned by Activision Blizzard (ATVI) that works on the company’s in style “Call of Duty” sport collection, voted on Monday to form a union they’re calling the Game Workers Alliance. The union will symbolize 28 staff, 19 of whom voted in favor of unionizing, in accordance to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which has been supporting the effort.

“Our biggest hope is that our union serves as inspiration for the growing movement of workers organizing at video game studios to create better games and build workplaces that reflect our values and empower all of us,” members of the alliance stated in a press release shared by CWA. “We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract,” they added.

Microsoft makes a big bet that it can fix Activision Blizzard's troubled cultureMicrosoft makes a big bet that it can fix Activision Blizzard's troubled culture
The unionization vote follows months of tensions between Raven and Activision Blizzard over latest layoffs. In December, dozens of software program staff at Raven nearly walked out of work after Activision Blizzard laid off 12 high quality assurance testers from their unit. Since then, some of the staff have continued to strike, calling for the terminated staff to be reinstated, in addition to for the firm to rent long-time contractors as full-time employees.

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson instructed NCS Business when requested about the union vote. “We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”

The union push marks the newest effort by Activision Blizzard staff to agitate for improved office situations. Last July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit towards Activision Blizzard, alleging a “frat boy” work tradition the place a number of feminine employees had been subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and unequal pay. (The firm instructed NCS at the time that it had addressed previous misconduct and criticized the lawsuit as “inaccurate” and “distorted.”)
The swimsuit kicked off a interval of turmoil for the firm, together with employee walkouts, an government shuffle and pressure on the CEO to step down.
Earlier this yr, Microsoft (MSFT) agreed to purchase Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, making it one of the greatest tech acquisitions in recent times. Microsoft has had its personal challenges with office tradition, together with allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior by its founder and former CEO Bill Gates from the 2000s. (NCS has not independently confirmed all of the allegations.)

— NCS Business’ Sara Ashley O’Brien contributed to this report.

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