After investigating an unfair labor practice charge against Activision Blizzard, the National Labor Relations Board found that the company withheld raises from quality assurance workers at Call of Duty support studio Raven Software. The agency attributed this withholding to the workers' union activity.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a complaint on behalf of the workers in June. It accused Activision Blizzard of retaliating against those who were attempting to unionize in a number of ways, including by laying some off and dismantling the studio's QA department by moving workers to separate teams. The CWA also said that Activision Blizzard leadership solicited grievances, which the NLRB concurred with. The agency is still looking into some aspects of the original complaint, as The Washington Post notes.
The CWA filed an amended version of the complaint on Monday. It claimed that Activision Blizzard is continuing to violate labor laws by keeping QA workers at the studio separated without their own department.
In April, Activision Blizzard gave 1,100 QA testers full-time jobs and higher base pay. However, it said QA workers at Raven were not eligible for pay bumps “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.” At the time, Raven QA workers were working toward a union election. They voted to unionize in May. Contract negotiations between Activision Blizzard and the Game Workers Alliance (the Raven QA workers' union) are ongoing.
“Despite their best efforts, Activision’s constant attempts to undermine its workers’ and impede our union election have failed," CWA and the Game Workers Alliance told Engadget in a statement. "We’re glad the NLRB recognized that Activision acted illegally when they unequally enforced policies by withholding company-wide benefits and wage increase from Raven workers for organizing. We want the company to bargain a fair contract in good faith and to move past all of the cheap — and illegal — tricks they tried to pull to prevent us from forming our union."
"Due to legal obligations under the [National Labor Relations Act] requiring employers not to grant wage increases while an election was pending, we could not institute new pay initiatives at Raven because they would be brand new kinds of compensation changes, which had not been planned beforehand," Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George told The Washington Post. "This rule that employers should not grant these kinds of wage increases has been the law for many years.”