Update 4/7 12:43 pm PT: New details about Activision Blizzard’s plans for converting QA testers to full-time employees have emerged. In a statement to Bloomberg, the Raven employees who formed a union earlier this year will not receive new pay bumps “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”
The CWA responded to Activision’s claims calling the move “galling” that “Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits.” Activision responded to Kotaku by citing Labor Board v. Exchange Parts Co., 375 U.S. 405 (1964) which states employers could violate the National Labor Relations Act if they confer economic benefits on its employees for the purpose of inducing them to vote against the union.
Original Story: Activision Blizzard has announced that it will be converting nearly 1,100 US-based temporary and contingent QA workers to full-time positions.
The company says that the change will increase Activision Publishing’s total full-time staff by 25%, following a recent conversion of nearly 500 contractors to full-time employees. However, some dozen QA team members at Raven Software were not part of this transition, leading to a walkout at the studio.
Along with the move to full-time, QA workers will have their hourly rate increased to $20 per hour, and be able to partake in the company’s bonus plan and have access to full-time benefits.
Activision Publishing COO Josh Taub and head of Blizzard Mike Ybarra both sent emails to staff today announcing the change. Both cite the need to support ongoing and live games as a reason for the change.
“During the last two years, Call of Duty has expanded and evolved. Our development cycles have gone from an annual release to an “always on” model,” says Taub. “In response to greater engagement, we’ve increased our live services business across all platforms… In light of these changes, and as we look to our ambitious plans for the future, we are further refining how our development teams work together.”
In a separate email, Ybarra told Blizzard staff “Our ability to deliver great games at the “Blizzard quality” level our players expect is vital to ensuring we exceed player expectations. Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen and engage with members of our QA team and we’ve had several meetings where I outlined my philosophy about contract/full-time roles.”
The move follows growing unionization efforts across Activision Blizzard, first with the ABetterABK Workers Alliance, a workers’ collective that has organized various walkouts across the company in support of better working conditions. The Raven QA employees also formed Blizzard’s very first union earlier this year.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.