Updated 1/11/2023 with a statement from a Blizzard spokesperson.In December, Blizzard-owned Proletariat, acquired in 2022 to work on Dragonflight and more, announced that a supermajority at the studio intended to unionize. Activision Blizzard now refuses to voluntarily recognize the union efforts, setting up another legal battle.
Previously, QA workers at two other studios, Raven Studios in Wisconsin, and Blizzard Albany in New York, announced their intentions to unionize. In those cases, Activision Blizzard questioned letting just QA workers vote as a separate unit, preferring direct conversation with employees over a union, but if a union vote were to happen, that it should be the full studio that gets to vote. In both of those cases, the QA teams won the right to hold union votes as a separate unit, and both subsequently voted to unionize.
Like those other teams, Boston-based Proletariat intends to organize under the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as Proletariat Workers Alliance. According to a statement from Activision Blizzard spokesperson Joe Christinat, as cited by Axios, Proletariat “believes 48 employees are eligible to vote”, a difference from the 57 workers cited in the original unionization announcement.
Proletariat’s own official statement from yesterday, January 9th, states that they submitted a request for an anonymous voting process over unionization. “Besides being the fairest option, this also allows employees to get all the information and various points of view. This is an important decision, everyone deserves some time to process it and to better understand its potential impacts,” reads the blog about this decision.
Since Activision Blizzard is not recognizing the union efforts, expect this to go to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This dispute over the number of eligible union voters, as well as the official voting process terms, will be decided. Proletariat and CWA gave a joint statement to Axios, criticizing the drawn-out process. Activision Blizzard is “forcing us through an NLRB election, even though a supermajority of our bargaining unit have signed union cards”.
Activision Blizzard is still under pending acquisition by Microsoft, which last week, voluntarily recognized its first union, by QA workers across ZeniMax Studios, also under the CWA.
UPDATE: The following statement from a Blizzard spokesperson was sent to us to clarify their position on voting eligibility:
Shortly after the CWA filed a petition for union election at Proletariat, some employees said they felt pressured to sign union cards, were inadequately informed about what they were signing and what it meant when they signed. Given this fact, we strongly believe an anonymous vote is the fairest option. Many employees have requested it, as it gives them the chance to collect facts and insights about such an important decision without any external pressure. We want to ensure that all employees can make their voices heard, as this is their decision.