Activision Blizzard employees vote to form union; company charged with ‘threatening’ workers

Employees at a subsidiary of gaming company Activision Blizzard voted to unionize Monday, the same day the already embattled gaming company was found guilty of threatening workers to not speak about working conditions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

On the same day, a former Activision Blizzard employee also filed an appeal to the company’s $18 million settlement in a federal sexual harassment case. 

The union vote was among approximately two dozen workers at the quality assurance department at Raven Software, a division of the gaming company based in Wisconsin.

Nearly all participating workers voted in favor of the union, with just three votes against the union counted. Two ballots were challenged, but it is not sufficient to change the count. 

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union. 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,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said in a statement.

Activision had sought to block the petition workers filed to unionize, arguing that any union must include all approximately 230 employees, representing 80 different job positions.

But the National Labor Relations Board ruled last month the department could proceed with the vote separate from the rest of Raven Software. 

Shortly before the Monday afternoon vote on the union, the NLRB released a charge against Activision accusing the company of threatening employees to not speak about wages, hours and working conditions, and of maintaining an “overly broad social media policy” that conflicted with workers’ rights. 

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson denied the allegations in a statement. 

“Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates employees’ NLRA rights,” the spokesperson said. 

“Our social media policy explicitly says that it ‘does not restrict employees from engaging in the communication of information protected by law, including for example, rights of employees in the United States protected by the National Labor Relations Act,’” they added. 

Separately on Monday, a former Activision worker filed to appeal a $18 million settlement between the company and the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 

Activision settled a federal sexual harassment case with the EEOC in March for the $18 million settlement, but it is still facing a lawsuit from a California regulatory agency. 

Former Activision employee Jessica Gonzalez filed an appeal to the settlement based on the settlement’s conditions that make anyone who chooses to be part of the EEOC settlement waive their rights to be part of the California agency’s lawsuit against the company. 

“The court allowed Activision and the EEOC to keep the affected workers and others who had an interest in holding the company accountable out of the process,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Eligible employees should not have to give up their right to pursue other legal remedies if they accept the settlement.”

The lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual harassment and the union push come at a time when Microsoft is proceeding with a deal to acquire the gaming company in a $70 billion deal.

–Updated at 4:05 p.m.

Tags Activision eeoc Microsoft NLRB Raven Softward

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