As Activision Blizzard has attempted to coast towards the end of its deal with and acquisition by Microsoft, so too has it attempted to squash employee efforts to organize in response to its questionable leadership. That has included the efforts of Raven Software quality assurance (QA) testers unionizing within the company. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigated and found that Activision Blizzard purposely withheld raises from workers that engaged in union activity.
This finding was shared in a report by Washington Post, who shared the NLRB’s recent investigation and its conclusion. According to the NLRB, Activision Blizzard knowingly targeted and withheld raises from employees within Raven Software’s QA department, especially targeting those who had engaged in union activity, organizing, or signups. A join complaint was filed to NLRB, alleging that Activision Blizzard discriminated and retaliated against current and former QA testers at Raven Software for their union activity. That reportedly included laying off workers, reorganizing Raven Software to remove the QA department, withholding benefits and soliciting grievances. The NLRB continues to investigate some of these allegations.
For its part, Activision Blizzard is continuing to negotiate with Raven QA’s newly organized union and claims that was part of the reason behind withheld raises.
“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,” said Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George. “This rule that employers should not grant these kinds of wage increases has been the law for many years.”
Nonetheless, it would not be the first time Activision Blizzard has taken action against organization within the company. The company has deployed anti-union messaging through in-company channels, as well as refusing to even recognize the union until very recently, and then, only after Xbox boss Phil Spencer signaled intent to recognize the Raven QA union first.
It remains to be seen what kind of consequences the NLRB will have for Activision Blizzard following the findings of its investigation. However, if Activision Blizzard did indeed discriminate against union workers it may land the company in further hot water ahead of its acquisition. Stay tuned for further updates.