Activision Blizzard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick said the US’s biggest independent video-game publisher will start negotiating with the Communications Workers of America over a collective bargaining agreement for employees at its subsidiary Raven Software.
Last month, a majority of video game testers at Raven Software employees voted to form a union—a first for a US-listed game company. Workers came together in response to job cuts at the company last December.
“While first labor contracts can take some time to complete, we will meet CWA leaders at the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that supports the success of all our employees,” Kotick wrote in an email to employees.
Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion and the software giant has said it will work with unions. Acknowledging that “the workplace is changing,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith wrote in a blog post earlier this month that “We respect this right and do not believe that our employees or the company’s other stakeholders benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union.”
Activision Blizzard has faced controversy over its reaction to Raven Software’s union push, including allegations of union-busting. One day after Smith’s blog post, the CWA filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board alleging that Activision Blizzard illegally retaliated against employees over unionization efforts.
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens described Kotick’s message as a positive step toward better labor relations at Activision Blizzard. “We know that the management approach recommended by anti-union consultants is ineffective and detrimental,” she said in a statement to Bloomberg. We “hope that today’s announcement is the first of many steps towards full collaboration between ABK leadership and employees to positively shape the future of Activision through a strong union contract.”
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