Another Activision Blizzard studio is working to unionize

About 20 QA workers at Blizzard Albany have filed for a union election.

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Artwork showing Mephisto from Diablo II. In front of him are the Barbarian, Druid and Necromancer.
Blizzard

Workers at the studio formerly known as Vicarious Visions are attempting to unionize. On Tuesday, quality assurance staff at Blizzard Albany went public with the news that they had filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In a Twitter thread, the group said it was seeking representation with the Communications Workers of America.

The approximately 20 workers involved in the effort call themselves the Game Workers Alliance Albany, a nod to the first-ever union to form at Activision Blizzard. Like their colleagues at Raven Software, the QA staff at Blizzard Albany are seeking fairer compensation, more pay transparency and better benefits. They also want to work with Activision Blizzard to create a process for addressing workplace issues, including cases involving employee misconduct.

“QA is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries,” the group said. “We strive to foster work environments where we are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process.” The QA workers at Blizzard Albany say they asked Activision last week to recognize their union voluntarily. The publisher acknowledged the request but has yet to share a decision.

“Our top priority remains our employees. We deeply respect the rights of all employees under the law to make their own decisions about whether or not to join a union,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Engadget. “We believe that a direct relationship between the company and its employees is the most productive relationship. The company will be publicly and formally providing a response to the petition to the NLRB.”

Before Activision folded Vicarious Visions into Blizzard at the start of 2021, the 200-person developer was one of the publisher’s most dependable support studios. It worked on the excellent Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remaster and Destiny 2’s PC port. More recently, as a part of Blizzard, the studio remastered Diablo II.

In June, Microsoft announced it would respect all unionization efforts at Activision Blizzard following the close of its $68.7 billion deal to buy the publisher. In doing so, the company signed a landmark neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America. According to The Washington Post, Activision Blizzard employees, including some at Blizzard Albany, plan to stage a walkout on Thursday to demand better workplace protections following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

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