Activision Blizzard sees second successful union drive

Activision booth at E3 2017
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Quality Assurance workers at Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, voted to unionize their department on Friday, with 14 votes for and none against of the eligible 18 members of the unit (credit to Polygon (opens in new tab).) Game Workers Alliance Albany is the second QA unit at an Activision Blizzard-owned developer to unionize, following in the footsteps of Raven QA's successful push (opens in new tab) this past Summer.

The victory came just two days after the National Labor Relations Board ruled against Activision Blizzard's motion (opens in new tab) to delay the vote. Activision Blizzard argued, as it had in the run up to the Raven QA vote, that any question of unionization should apply to the whole studio as opposed to a single department. 

GWA Albany argued, and the NLRB agreed, that there are enough differences in pay, treatment, and the nature of their work that the QA staff had ample ground to unionize independent of other departments.

GWA Albany will next move to contract negotiations, a stage Raven QA remains mired in. At the beginning of November, Kotaku (opens in new tab) reported on the state of negotiations, particularly Activision Blizzard's insistence on not awarding Raven QA workers a pay increase granted to the company's other QA units back in April. 

Activision Blizzard and Starbucks (opens in new tab) have both withheld general pay raises from union workplaces, citing labor law drafted to ensure employers could not sway union drives with changes to pay. The Washington Post (opens in new tab) reported in October that the NLRB found this to be retaliation for union activity in Raven Software's case.

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Destiny players may recognize the Vicarious Visions name⁠—under its former moniker, Blizzard Albany was a key support studio for Bungie that, among other contributions, spearheaded the PC port of Destiny 2. Blizzard Albany is currently working on the upcoming Diablo 4.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.