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Blizzard Albany Forms Union

GameRant 12/5/2022 Marc Joseph Hill
© Provided by GameRant

Quality assurance workers at Blizzard Albany have become the second union to officially form at the company, following months of deliberation. Formerly known as Vicarious Visions, the QA testers launched a unionization attempt shortly after being merged into Blizzard in April of this year.

The video game industry has a poor record of union participation, but recent years have seen a movement towards rectifying it, albeit in a limited capacity. Vodeo Games were the first studio to entirely unionize, certified in 2021 after management graciously recognized the effort. More prominent developers have struggled to replicate that success at scale since, but QA workers are leading the charge. Often overlooked and underappreciated, QA staff at Raven Software and Keywords Studios, operating under Activision Blizzard and BioWare respectively, have voted to form a union in recent months and were joined by the team from Blizzard Albany, who filed a request for a union vote with the National Labor Relations Board in July.

RELATED: Activision Blizzard Reportedly Withheld Raises from Raven Software Employees for Unionizing

As reported by Polygon, the request was approved in October but then stalled following a failed attempt by Activision Blizzard to seek a board review. The vote was scheduled to take place on November 18, ironically delayed by a blizzard, before being finally conducted a couple of weeks later in what proved to be an overwhelming result in favor of the proposed union. With zero votes against and 14 affirming the desire for unionization, Blizzard Albany QA workers become the second collective under Activision Blizzard.

Amanda Deep, an associate test analyst for Blizzard Albany, claimed the drive "was inspired by Raven Software's QA union," and expressed hope that their success would inspire others in the video game industry to pursue similar collective action. Although the unionization efforts follow a present trend within the United States, a result of what many considered exploitative employee treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, accusations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace have no doubt acted as a catalyst for these endeavors at Activision Blizzard.

Last year, the Californian government sued Activision Blizzard after an in-depth investigation that unearthed allegations of a "frat boy" culture endemic to the company. Stories of sexual harassment and abuse, including an employee suicide, led to widespread outrage inside and outside Activision Blizzard, with workers staging walkouts and other forms of protest before some turned to unionizing. The gaming giant has struggled to atone and restructure in the wake of these revelations, with the National Labor Relations Board finding evidence to suggest that employees at Raven Software had their raises withheld in a punitive response to unionization.

MORE: Sony's Objection to Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Acquisition Explained

Source: Polygon

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