As the gaming industry approaches a new era of consolidation, it has also been steadily approaching new heights in worker rights. There has been a lot of conversation surrounding the topic of unions, and now, it seems like the latest development in such a field will come from a band of Diablo testers from Blizzard's Albany branch (Previously Vicarious visions).
The US National Labor Relations Board accepted a recent petition by the aforementioned tester group to allow them to vote for unionization. As you might have expected, Activision Blizzard opposed the move, saying that a larger group of 88 developers should be included in the vote. However, that was shot down, and now, the ruling from the NLRB will allow workers to vote on forming a union.
Of course, the top brass at Activision certainly didn't agree with that move. However, according to a recent statement posted on the company's internal Slack (shared by A Better ABK group founder Jessica Gonzalez), the company will ultimately respect the process and support the employees' right to choose how they want to be represented... Probably because they have no other choice. You can read the statement below:
New Activision Blizzard union bust just dropped. The irony of the communications channel being locked and they’re still using the “we’d like a direct communication” line. Clown show 🤡 how dare you undermine Game Workers Alliance when ABK refuses to bargain in good faith. pic.twitter.com/aIsBVtdaO5
— Jessica Gonzalez💙✨(she/her) BOOnion lady 👻 (@_TechJess) October 19, 2022
The election that was cleared by the ruling will take place soon. Ballots for the voting will be sent out come October 27, the votes will be counted on November 18. Amanda Laven, an associate test analyst at Blizzard Albany, expressed delight at this news, telling The Washington Post that she hopes this sets an example for companies everywhere by not engaging in union-busting practices.
If the vote is successful, the Diablo tester group will become the second company within Activision Blizzard to unionize successfully. The studio’s quality assurance department took cues for its organizing campaign from Raven Software. Could this cause a ripple effect across the industry? We'll continue to report as more developments surface.