Blizzard Albany QA Staff File to Unionise

An image of unionisation at Activision Blizzard.

An image of unionisation at Activision Blizzard.

Following the decision of QA staff at Call of Duty studio Raven Software to vote in favour of unionisation in late May, another Activision Blizzard is seemingly seeking to follow in their footsteps.

According to a report from The Washington Post, workers at Blizzard Albany, the New York-based studio formerly known as Vicarious Visions, have opted to file for a union election with the US National Labour Relations Board.

This comes after the group formally asked Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognize their union late last week, a request which has been acknowledged by the publisher, but hasn’t received a decision as of writing.

Studio Formerly Known As Vicarious Visions Joins In On Unionisation Effort

Speaking to The Washington Post, Amanda Laven, an associate test analyst at Blizzard Albany said: “I firmly believe that having the union is going to give us the power that we need to make our workplace better.”

She also cited the Raven staff’s efforts as a direct influence on Blizzard Albany’s decision, adding: “Raven has been a huge inspiration to us, seeing their process, it’s been demystifying to see them do it first and have an idea of how things go and how the company might respond. ”

Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George gave a statement to The Washington Post in response to the news, writing: “We deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union” and adding: “The company will be publicly and formally providing a response to the petition to the NLRB.”

The Blizzard Albany workers looking to unionise call themselves Game Workers Alliance Albany and have taken to Twitter to provide some additional context on the reasoning behind their decision, saying: “QA is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries.”

In terms of their desired outcomes, Game Workers Alliance Albany pinpoints improvements to current compensation, work-life balance and the processes by which workplace issues are resolved as key goals it wishes to accomplish by unionising.

The events surrounding unionisation efforts at Activision Blizzard have occurred against a complicated backdrop for the company, which, following a 2021 headlined by a company-wide sexual harassment scandal and lawsuit, agreed in January to be acquired by Microsoft in a $68.7 billion deal.

The historic Raven vote which seems to have set a precedent also followed strike action by Raven employees in December 2021, which later led those workers to be excluded from a pay and status bump given to other Activision Blizzard employees by the publisher, in what many saw as an attempt by Activision Blizzard to halt the progress being made towards unionisation by groups like the GWA.

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