Albany, New York — A supermajority of quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions) have announced the formation of the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA and filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. Last week the workers asked that Activision Blizzard management voluntarily recognize their union and respect their right to organize without retaliation or interference. The company acknowledged the request but has not said whether or not they will recognize the union.
“There’s issues in the video game industry that often go unnoticed because our work is seen as more of a passion instead of a job. Quality assurance workers deserve fair treatment and proper compensation for the work we do which is why we chose to form a union. Building the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA with my fellow co-workers will create a mechanism that allows us to make our voices heard. We know that by having a seat at the table our union will not only give us structure and power, but also give us a path forward to improve our workplace because management won’t be able to ignore us all anymore,” said Amanda Laven, Associate Test Analyst at Blizzard Albany.
The Blizzard Albany workers are the second group of Activision Blizzard workers to request representation with CWA. In May, quality assurance workers at Activision’s Raven Software studio in Wisconsin won their union election and became the first certified union at Activision Blizzard. Although Activision CEO Bobby Kotick eventually sent a letter informing employees that Activision Blizzard would accept the results of the Raven QA testers’ union election and begin negotiations, the company had worked tirelessly to prevent the election from happening.
“There is absolutely no reason for Activision Blizzard to refuse to recognize the Blizzard Albany workers’ union,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “There is no doubt about what the workers want. Over 95% of the quality assurance testers have signed onto a vision statement requesting union recognition. Recognizing the union will show that Activision Blizzard’s management is serious about improving the company’s work environment. Engaging in a protracted union election fight would further undermine morale and cement management’s legacy as enablers of a toxic, hostile work environment.”
Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, and has entered into a legally binding agreement with CWA to remain neutral when workers want to organize a union which includes a streamlined process for choosing union representation. In a vision statement, the members of the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA asked that Activision Blizzard management take the high road and follow Microsoft’s decision and commit to a similar labor neutrality agreement so that Activision Blizzard throughout the company may join a union without fear of retail.
“All Activision Blizzard workers deserve a union and a say in how their workplace is run, no matter where they’re located. Game workers are often marginalized, and don’t have basic protections on the job such as benefits or job security. We are inspired by our colleagues at Raven Software for winning union representation with the Game Workers Alliance/CWA and for paving the way for Albany GWA-CWA members to have bargaining rights and a seat at the table. We hope to accomplish the same,” said Brock Davis, Associate Test Analyst at Blizzard Albany.
“We formed this union because we demand better treatment, compensation, and benefits for our crucial role in game development. All game developers deserve this, not just those of us in Quality Assurance. With our union, we will be able to negotiate for ourselves to get the treatment we deserve,” said Ryan Claudy, Associate Test Analyst at Blizzard Albany.
The Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA will empower Blizzard QA workers and secure a legally binding contract that ensures competitive and fair compensation, better benefits, preserves QA testers’ current status as full time employees, and establishes transparency without fear of retaliation. Moving forward the union members hope management will come to the table to hold transparent contract negotiations that will ensure workers are protected and receive fair returns for their work.
“A collective bargaining agreement will not only give Albany QA workers a voice on the job, but also improve the games they produce and the company’s day to day operation,” said John Van Denburgh, President of CWA Local 1118 in Albany. “Activision-Blizzard should follow Microsoft’s commitment to a Labor Neutrality Agreement. Respecting the supermajority of Blizzard Albany QA workers’ decision to form a union without hesitation is the only answer.”
Follow Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA at @WeAreGWAAlbany