Quality Assurance Workers at Activision Form the Biggest Video Game Union in the US

Originally published in Labor Today

March 8th, 2024 saw the announcement of another new union in the video game industry at Activision. 600 workers across Texas, California, and Minnesota came together with the organizing efforts of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) to form the Activision Quality Assurance United (AQAU). This comes after 1,900 jobs were cut at Activision in January from Microsoft after only acquiring the brand approximately three months earlier in October 2023. The CWA also has led organizing efforts at other Microsoft subsidiaries, successfully organizing unions at Zenimax OnlineBlizzard, and Raven Software making the total employees represented by unions at over 1,000 members at Microsoft.

This news comes as studios across the industry have suffered massive layoffs totaling over 8,000 positions. The CWA was able to secure severance benefits for temporary workers and save a number of jobs at Sega in the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS), but the industry is still massively unorganized in the US as the number of workers totals over 260,000, meaning unions currently make up less than 1%.

The CWA and Microsoft reached a labor neutrality agreement back in June of 2022 that would begin 60 days after the acquisition of Activision.

“This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organize and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry. Microsoft’s binding commitments will give employees a seat at the table and ensure that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard benefits the company’s workers and the broader video game labor market.”
– CWA President Chris Shelton on labor neutrality agreement

Workers at AQAU are the first to organize under the agreement, but Microsoft also chose a neutral stance towards organizing efforts last year at Zenimax Studios. The workers at Activision will join CODE-CWA along with other tech workers in various industries and companies and joining CWA Locals 9400 (California), 6215 (Texas), and 7250 (Minnesota) respectively.