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The National Labor Relations Board has found merit to several allegations of unfair labor practices at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software, which faced its first successful union drive earlier this year.
In early findings from an investigation being conducted by the labor board’s Region 18, whose jurisdiction includes the Wisconsin area where Call of Duty: Warzone maker Raven Software is based, the region found that the company had denied raises to organizing workers and “solicit[ed] grievances” from employees during the union campaign, a representative of the NLRB confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter after union Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced the news on Monday. The investigation into other charges, which CWA filed in June of 2022, is still ongoing. It’s not uncommon for the NLRB to confirm early findings in investigations with the media.
The Game Workers Alliance, the union of QA workers at Raven Software that was certified via an NLRB union election earlier this year, said in a statement, “Despite their best efforts, Activision’s constant attempts to undermine its workers’ and impede our union election have failed. We’re glad the NLRB recognized that Activision acted illegally when they unequally enforced policies by withholding company-wide benefits and wage increases from Raven workers for organizing.”
Activision Blizzard maintains that the company disagrees with Region 18’s early conclusions. Regarding the claim about withholding raises, a company spokesperson says in a statement, “Due to legal obligations under the NLRA 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.” When it comes to the finding about soliciting grievance, the company spokesperson says that this depiction is not “accurate” and that “Although Raven QA was offered a non-mandatory opportunity to meet with Activision Blizzard leadership during an on-site visit, because some of the QA testers had previously requested a discussion with management, at no point was this framed as an opportunity to specifically address grievances. Furthermore, the offer was never taken, and no meeting ever occurred.” The company says that it will defend these positions in the NLRB’s litigation process “and, if necessary, the appeals court process.”
In addition to the union’s allegations about raises and solicitation of grievances, the CWA further claimed in its June unfair labor practices charge against Raven Software that the company had “discriminated and retaliated against current and former Quality Assurance testers (‘QAs’) for engaging in union and protected concerted activity” by laying off 12 employees and reorganizing the Wisconsin office where the organizing QA testers were based to terminate the QA department. The union alleged that this violated section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, which covers discrimination against employees for participating in organizing. The NLRB has yet to release findings about these outstanding claims.
Now that partial merit to the union’s allegations has been found, the two sides can settle the dispute, which the NLRB encourages. If they do not, Region 18’s director could release a complaint that would trigger a hearing before an administrative law judge. Meanwhile, the Raven Software QA worker union is still negotiating its first contract with Activision Blizzard.
June’s unfair labor practices charge is one of several that the CWA has lobbed at Activision Blizzard since it began organizing at the company. In April, the union alleged that the company “threatened employees that they should not discuss issues concerning wages hours [sic] and working conditions on Slack” and in August, the union further charged that the company had terminated a chat channel where workers were discussing “wages, hours and working condition [sic],” an allegation the company denied; results of those NLRB investigations have not yet been disclosed. In December 2021 the union claimed that the company had made “coercive statements,” a charge that was dismissed by the labor board in June.
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