Blizzard Albany QA workers have voted 14-0 in their unionization vote and will officially organize under Game Workers Alliance Albany, which is under the Communication Workers of America. The vote came after the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) denied Activision Blizzard’s attempt to delay the vote and prevent a count of any ballots that had been sent.
This marks the second studio, after Raven Software’s QA workers voted for unionization several months ago. When that effort was underway, Activision Blizzard had sought to make it so that the QA workers were unable to vote independently, and the company maintained that opening the vote to the entire staff would be the fairest representation. The QA team claimed that this was a tactic to dilute the strength of the potential vote, since it was the QA workers that had come together to want to unionize in the first place. The decision came in favor of the QA workers being eligible to vote as a group and they voted to unionize shortly afterward.
Activision Blizzard tried the same strategy when it came to Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions) when its QA workers decided to call for a vote. The NLRB had ruled that the 18 QA workers could hold their unionization vote as a group, yet a filing by Activision Blizzard asked the NLRB to review that decision and delay counting the vote, even to impound any ballots.
WE WON!— GWA Albany (@WeAreGWAAlbany) December 2, 2022
At the end of November, the decision came down in favor of the QA department once more, and the results of the vote were revealed today. The NLRB’s decision read, in part, that while they understand and accept that game design is a team effort, with “integration and contact among departments” the QA team had some important distinctive characteristics. “The testers have a separate department and separate supervision; perform a distinct function, utilizing distinct skills; and have notably lower wages than the excluded employees”.
Both parties have five days to file any objections.
Activision Blizzard released a statement (as shared by The Verge) that says they are “considering all options, with a focus on what is best for all employees and to provide the best games for our millions of players. We still believe our entire Albany team should have the right to vote. This is about fundamental fairness and rights for every member of the team”.