Activision Quality Assurance Department Forms Union

Around 600 workers in Activision Publishing’s quality assurance department have successfully formed a union with the assistance of the Communications Workers of America. The employees completed their vote, and the results were officially certified on Friday, March 8th. This new union, known as Activision Quality Assurance United – CWA, is now the largest video game union in the United States, marking a significant milestone in the gaming industry.

In 2022, Microsoft established a labor neutrality agreement with the CWA, which has facilitated the unionization process at the company and its subsidiaries, including Activision Blizzard. Tom Shelley, a technical requirements specialist and one of the organizers of Activision Quality Assurance United, highlighted the impact of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, stating that it has made the goals of unionizing easier to achieve. According to Shelley, QA workers often have the weakest protections and lowest pay in the industry, despite their crucial role in ensuring the success of game development projects.

The Importance of Quality Assurance in the Gaming Industry

Quality assurance professionals play a vital role in the gaming industry by testing games for bugs and other issues, identifying them for developers to address. Despite the importance of their work, QA jobs are predominantly entry-level positions, leading to a lack of recognition and fair compensation. This disparity underscores the necessity for labor protections and collective bargaining efforts within the industry.

Shelley commended Microsoft for voluntarily recognizing the union formed by QA workers at ZeniMax online and other subsidiaries. This proactive stance by Microsoft sets a positive example for the gaming industry and encourages further organizing efforts among employees. By acknowledging the value and rights of labor unions, Microsoft is fostering a culture of respect and empowerment for workers across its gaming divisions.

Challenges Faced by Video Game Unions

While video game labor unions are gaining momentum, they have encountered obstacles amidst widespread layoffs and restructuring within the industry. In 2023, the CWA filed an unfair labor complaint against Sega, alleging plans to phase out temporary employees who were part of the Aegis union formed the previous year. Despite initial concerns, union negotiations ultimately led to the retention of several jobs following layoffs at Sega.

The formation of Activision Quality Assurance United represents a significant achievement for workers in the gaming industry, highlighting the growing importance of collective bargaining and labor protections for QA professionals. By uniting in solidarity, employees can advocate for fair treatment, improved working conditions, and greater recognition of their contributions to the success of gaming companies.

Tech

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