More Activision Blizzard employees have voted to join a union. Quality testers at Blizzard Albany have voted 14 to 0 for unionization. The team from the Diablo-focused office will join the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the representative of the existing Raven Software union.
The game publisher tried to prevent the vote in October, arguing that 88 developers would have to be included to avoid a “broken” office. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected that offer in late November, noting that the game testers shared a “community of interest” for their cause. Extensions like this are sometimes used to bust unions to reduce the chance of a successful vote. The company also tried to confiscate three votes that arrived late due to mail delays, though that would not have affected the outcome.
Activision Blizzard told Engadget in a statement that it was “considering all options.” It maintained that all Albany employees should have voted in the name of “fundamental justice and rights” for the entire industry, not just the QA unit.
The CWA said in its own statement that this was a vote against “burnout culture,” while Blizzard Albany associate test analyst Amanda Deep said the group “stuck up for ourselves” out of concern for work and games. Employees at Raven and Blizzard Albany have complained about long hours, pay rates and other labor issues. In theory, union formation gives staff more clout when it comes to demanding better conditions.
However, it may not be that simple. While Activision Blizzard responded to the initial union effort by converting 1,100 testers to full-time jobs and raising their base salaries, the NLRB also found that it unfairly withheld pay raises for Raven QA employees who voted to join a union. Activision Blizzard claimed it passed on those pay increases because of “legal obligations” surrounding an upcoming election, but the NLRB attributed this to the union organization. Improved conditions may come, but they are not guaranteed to come soon.