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Published: July 20, 2022

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • QA testers from Blizzard’s Albany create the company’s second union
  • This follows a wider trend of worker-led organizations popping up in the US
  • Activision Blizzard says it will respect its employees’ decision to unionize

After months of deliberation and preparation, QA workers from Activision Blizzard’s Albany studio have unionized in the effort to get better working conditions.

Activision Blizzard Workers Form Yet Another Union

Less than a couple of months after Raven Software employees created Activision Blizzard’s first workers’ union, the videogame corporation is faced with yet another such organization. The QA department at Blizzard Albany, the studio was formerly known as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2’s Vicarious Visions, announced the creation of the union in a series of tweets.

It is organized by GWA Albany and currently has around 20 members, mainly from the QA department at Blizzard Albany. The union aims to address issues like competitive and fair compensation, healthcare, and “establishing reasonable protocols to address demands of “crunch” time.”

Amanda Laven, an associate test analyst and member of the GWA Albany organizing committee, explained that the roots of the organization start in December, which is around the same time the Raven Software employees were walking out to protest layoffs.

What Do These Changes Mean?

The creation of this union follows a wider trend that is being seen in the US. Many workers from companies like Starbucks, Amazon, Chipotle, ad more, are starting to create unions of their own. It is perhaps not surprising that QA testers, who have a profession known to be of the worst-treated workers in the video game industry, are also banding together to demand better pay and work environment.

“Our pay tends to be significantly lower than other departments, crunch hits us hard because we’re at the end of the development pipeline, and often there is little room for career growth or sustainability,” said Laven. She explained that there is a positive change on the horizon as the company is now beginning to offer raises, full-time conversions, and educational opportunities, all of which came as a result of the workers’ collective efforts.

 “I believe other departments are already starting to organize as well, and that when they see our success and what working together can accomplish it will accelerate their efforts,” Laven said.

Activision Blizzard’s official position, as told to The Verge by the company’s spokesperson Rich George reads: “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 responding to the petition to the NLRB.”

It also has to be noted that Microsoft, which is in the process of buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, has entered a labor neutrality agreement, meaning that the company will respect the outcomes of Activision Blizzard’s rising labor movement.

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