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'We all want to build long term, sustainable careers in this industry and having a seat at the table.'

Chris Kerr, News Editor

March 11, 2024

2 Min Read
The AQAU–CWA logo on a red background
Image via AQAU–CWA

A group of around 600 quality assurance workers at Activision Blizzard have formed the largest certified union in U.S. video game history.

Notably, the union has already been voluntarily recognized by Microsoft as a result of the Labor Neutrality Agreement the Xbox maker signed with Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2022.

The CWA broke the news last week and explained Activision Quality Assurance United-CWA is the "largest group of union-represented workers at any U.S. game studio."

The new unit represents workers across a number of Activision Blizzard studios in California, Texas, and Minnesota. Its formation means there are now over 1,000 unionized staff at Microsoft being represented by the CWA.

CWA previously helped employees at Microsoft subsidiaries including Raven Software, Blizzard Albany, and ZeniMax Studios successfully unionize.

"Microsoft continues to keep its commitment to let workers decide for themselves whether they want a union," said CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. "Time and again, other big companies in the industry have made the decision to undermine and attack their own employees when they join together to form a union. Microsoft's choice will strengthen its corporate culture and ability to serve its customers and should serve as a model for the industry."

Microsoft's VP and deputy general counsel of HR legal, Amy Pannoni, said the company has maintained its commitment to remain neutral during union organizing campaigns and looks forward to continuing its "positive labor management relationship" with the new unit.

Multiple members of Activision Quality Assurance United-CWA said the move highlights what's possible when workers are able to freely organize. "As individual workers, there is only so much positive change we can create. We all want to build long term, sustainable careers in this industry and having a seat at the table as a union will allow us to work together collectively to make a better workplace,” said union member Tom Shelley.

Kara Fannon, another union member, said they hope to see improvements in the workplace, including higher wages and more career opportunities. "Quality Assurance roles are described as a way to get your foot in the door in the video game industry, but the truth is at best we get the internal job posting before the public does. We’re ready to grow our careers here, and believe that having a strong union contract will set workers and the company up for success," they added.

Unionization efforts across the game industry continue to gather pace as workers look to improve their working conditions and find some sense of security in the face of mass layoffs. Earlier this year, we spoke to a number of union members and insiders to learn more about the power of collective action within an increasingly hostile industry.

You can read the Activision Quality Assurance United-CWA's full mission statement right here.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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