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Blizzard QA workers from Vicarious Visions announce plan to unionize

The group will likely head to the National Labor Relations Board to vote

Graphic of the Blizzard logo on a glowing blue background Illustration: James Bareham/Polygon

QA workers at Blizzard Albany, formerly known as Vicarious Visions, are asking Activision Blizzard to recognize their union. The group, called Game Workers Alliance Albany (GWA Albany), announced the union push on Twitter. The Washington Post first reported the story.

“QA is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries. We strive to foster work environments where we are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process,” GWA Albany wrote. “We, the QA testers of Blizzard Albany are committed to fostering an open, diverse, and equitable workplace. We demand an environment where our skills, ideals, and democratic decisions are valued and respected. To that end, we have organized with [Communication Works of America] to form our union.”

GWA Albany asked Activision Blizzard for voluntary recognition last week, according to CWA. Activision Blizzard has not responded officially. In a statement to Polygon, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said the company will respond “publicly and formally” to the National Labor Relations Board petition.

The full statement is as follows:

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. 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.

Around 20 QA workers are eligible as part of the unit, according to the Washington Post. GWA Albany has filed with the NLRB, CWA said, which will likely lead to a union vote. This is the second group of Activision Blizzard workers to unionize under the company after Raven Software QA workers won their union in May. The Raven Software workers were forced to a union vote after Activision Blizzard refused to voluntarily recognize.

Vicarious Visions became Blizzard Albany in April. The 31-year-old studio was founded in 1991 and is best know for its work on Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, and for supporting last September’s Diablo II: Resurrected. It’s now entirely focused on Blizzard Entertainment games.

Like the rest of Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Albany will likely be merged with Microsoft following approval of Microsoft’s $68.7B purchase of Activision Blizzard. Should that deal go through, Microsoft has said it will not impede union efforts — in fact, it will stay “neutral” after signing an agreement with CWA. This agreement is expected to go into effect 60 days following the deal’s closure.

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