Monday, May 16, 2022

Activision Blizzard gives 1,100 QA testers full-time jobs and a higher base salary

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Activision Blizzard will convert all of its temporary and contract quality assurance employees in the US to full-time employees starting July 1. Many of the 1,100 employees will get a raise — the minimum hourly rate will increase to $20 an hour from April 17. As permanent employees, the employees receive benefits and can participate in a bonus plan.

The company says hiring those employees as staff will bolster development resources and increase the number of full-time employees by 25 percent. It recently converted nearly 500 other temporary and contract positions in its studios into full-time positions.

The move comes in the wake of a union action led by QA team members Raven software† Workers across Activision Blizzard went on strike in December after some Raven QA contractors were fired. The following month, studio QA employees announced their intention to unionize, which would see them join the first union at a AAA gaming company in North America.

Activision voluntarily refused to recognize the Game Workers Alliance and sent some people to other departments. Executives also tried to convince workers not to unionize by questioning the benefits of organizing. Nevertheless, the Raven QA workers pushed through their plans and filed for union elections through the National Labor Relations Board.

“Whether Raven employees choose to join a union has nothing to do with salary increases elsewhere for Activision’s QA employees,” an Activision spokesperson told Blizzard. Bloomberg† The spokesperson added that Raven employees are not eligible for the wage initiatives “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Microsoft, which has signed a deal to buy the company for $68.7 billion, said last month it respected the right of Activision Blizzard employees “to choose whether they want to be represented by a labor organization and we will respect those decisions.”

Employees at Activision Blizzard have pressured leadership on other fronts. Many went on strike this week after requirements for the vaccine against COVID-19 were lifted. The company clarified that it would allow its studios to set their own return-to-office policies.

Elsewhere, the company is the subject of multiple pending lawsuits against harassment and misconduct. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard last July, accusing the company of discriminating against female employees and promoting a “frat boy culture.” A tort lawsuit and a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against an individual plaintiff were also filed last month. Last week, a judge ordered Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million to settle a federal lawsuit accusing it of enabling a sexist and discriminatory environment.

Activision Blizzard isn’t the only major gaming company to hire temps and QA staff for permanent positions. In February, Epic Games said it would offer most of its US-based QA employees full-time positions.

Here’s the full statement Activision Blizzard provided to cafe-madrid:

In Activision Blizzard, we’re bringing more content to players in our franchises than ever before. As a result, we are refining how our teams work together to develop our games and provide the best possible experiences for our players. We have ambitious plans for the future and our Quality Assurance (QA) team members are a critical part of our development efforts.

As a result, we announced today the conversion of all US-based temporary and contingent QA team members at Activision Publishing (AP) and Blizzard almost 1,100 people in total for permanent full-time employees from 1 July. In addition, we will increase the minimum hourly rate for these team members to $20/hour or more effective April 17. These employees are also eligible to participate in the company’s bonus plan and receive access to full company benefits.

This change follows a process that began last year at AP and Blizzard to convert temporary and temporary employees, including 500 at AP’s studios, into permanent full-time employees.

Update 4/7 3:12 PM ET: Added clarification on impact on Raven employees.

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