Activision QA workers form largest video game union so far

Hundreds of QA workers at Activision studios across the United States have voted to form a major new union.
activision qa workers union

Hundreds of quality assurance (QA) employees working at Activision Blizzard have voted to form a union, with the assistance of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Known collectively as Activision Quality Assurance United, this union is the largest video game-related union to form so far, with the group encompassing 600 staff.

“This has been an emergent effort that’s arisen in the last few weeks in response to the opportunities we’ve had to freely organise following the merger [of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard,”Tom Shelley, a key organiser told The Verge of the union’s formation.

“As QA workers, we often have the weakest protections and lowest pay of any workers in the industry – even though our work is integral to the success of the companies we work for and the titles we make.”

As noted by Shelley, the QA discipline is often undervalued, and employees under-paid, despite bug fixes and quality control being one of the most important aspects of developing games. Many roles are also entry-level, and it’s often perceived as a job for inexperienced candidates. It’s for these reasons the Activision Quality Assurance United union has formed.

Read: CD Projekt Red, Avalanche Studios developers unionise

Microsoft has reportedly voluntarily recognised the new union already, as part of its commitment to maintaining labor neutrality over the course of its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Shelley has praised Microsoft for its approach, and claimed the company’s stance will make unionising much easier for every employee.

With the formation of the Activision Quality Assurance United, QA workers in Texas, Minnesota, and California will now have a union to negotiate on their behalf, particularly on the grounds of pay rises and workplace protections. Following months of developer layoffs, the formation of a union also spells greater hope for job security, as those within the union will have a better support structure going forward.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.