Wisconsin video game makers get union vote deal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A small group of Wisconsin video game workers can vote to form what could be the first union for a major U.S. video game publisher, a labor board official said.

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board on Friday ordered a May election for quality assurance officers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software, which develops the popular Call of Duty game franchise.

The drive to organize 21 employees at Raven’s Middleton, Wis., office is part of a larger internal shakeup at Activision Blizzard, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based gaming giant with about 10,000 employees in the world.

The company has come under fire from the government and some shareholders, and it recently settled a federal civil rights lawsuit over allegations that management ignored sexual harassment and workplace discrimination against female employees. .

Microsoft announced plans in January to buy the company for nearly $69 billion and said it would not interfere in unionization decisions.

Friday’s decision by Jennifer Hadsall, regional director of the NLRB in Minneapolis, dismissed Activision’s push for the election to include a broader category of Raven workers – which could have diluted the union group’s vote.

Activision Blizzard announced earlier in April that it would convert nearly 1,100 part-time quality assurance jobs to full-time workers and raise their hourly wages to at least $20.

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