Jun 10, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: Activision to start collective bargaining with new union

Visitors wait to try out the latest version of Call of Duty Modern Warfare

Visitors wait to try out Call of Duty Modern Warfare in 2019. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Activision Blizzard will announce Friday that it is opening collective bargaining negotiations with workers in the gaming giant’s Raven Software unit who recently voted to join a union, Axios has learned. 

Why it matters: Activision is in the middle of trying to get regulatory approval for its $68.7 billion acquisition by Microsoft.

  • The start of negotiations come on the heels of an announcement from Microsoft last week that it wouldn’t stand in the way of company employee efforts to unionize.

Details: In a memo to employees obtained by Axios, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wrote, “While first labor contracts can take some time to complete, we will meet CWA [Communications Workers of America] leaders at the bargaining table and work toward an agreement that supports the success of all our employees."

Our thought bubble, from Axios Gaming’s Stephen Totilo: This is a change in tone from Activision after months of public challenges to the Raven workers. Activision has long said it supports workers’ rights to unionize but had thrown some roadblocks to the Raven effort, including a National Labor Relations Board challenge to the Raven QA workers’ qualifications to vote on the union.

The big picture: Microsoft's recent willingness to work with unions stands in contrast to the broader industry's longstanding hostility to organized labor.

  • Microsoft president Brad Smith told Axios’ Ina Fried that the Activision Blizzard deal was one of many factors that prompted Microsoft to explore the issue more deeply.

Read the memo:

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional analysis from Stephen Totilo.

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