Activision Blizzard is asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to delay a union vote count from the company’s Albany QA team.
Formerly known as Vicarious Visions, Blizzard Albany has recently worked on Diablo II: Resurrected. While they were still called Vicarious Visions, they worked on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 remake. A sequel was planned to remake Tony Hawk 3 and 4 but was eventually scrapped.
Vicarious Visions has also recently worked on Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Warzone.
Currently, Blizzard Albany is hiring for positions on the Diablo IV team.
The mega-publisher filed a motion with the NLRB on November 2nd, 2022. Activision Blizzard wants to postpone the vote tally until its appeal of a previous NLRB case is able to be heard. GamesIndustry.biz first reported this story.
Phil Spencer, the Head of Xbox, is on the record saying that the company will recognize the Raven Software Union, officially known as the Game Workers Alliance. “We would absolutely support employees’ organization that’s in place,” Spencer said earlier this year. “We think it is a right of employees and something that can be a part of a relationship between a company and people who work at the company.”
Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard King is still going through approval. Spencer recently mentioned that he is confident that the deal will close.
Activision Blizzard’s argument with the Albany Union is that the entire studio should have a say in the vote, not just the QA team.
“We deeply respect our employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a union and to make an informed decision for themselves in a process where every voice is heard,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said.
“Given the significant impact this decision could have for everyone on the Albany-based Diablo team and the tight integration of our operations there, we believe strongly that each of the 107 eligible employees deserves to have their votes counted, not just the 18 quality assurance testers who are important employees but make up a small fraction of the team. We are pursuing an appeal to the NLRB regarding its proposed bargaining unit, because companies as well as union organizers have the right to make their case.”
The GWA Albany said on Twitter that they are “extremely disappointing that ABK is attempting to thwart another democratic union election to distract from the series of discrimination & harassment allegations made against the company. These efforts to undermine our organizing will fail. See you at the ballot count Nov. 18th.”
The Communications Workers of America responded to the story in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz.
“Sadly, it’s no surprise that a company that has repeatedly tried to silence its employees,” said Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer for the CWA, “including by hiding reports of sexual violence, would want to muzzle workers’ voices once again by trying to stop them from voting in a union election. Workers have concluded that they need to protect themselves from this abusive employer by joining together into a strong union.
“Instead of staying neutral, Activision’s management continues to present the same failing arguments in a desperate attempt to interfere with workers’ legal right to make their own decisions about forming a union and negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. It’s clear the company’s executives feel threatened by workers organizing in New York, Wisconsin and across the country.
“We are confident in the NLRB’s response to these frivolous requests, and we will continue to push for Activision Blizzard employees’ right to organize without delay.”
Over the past year, Activision Blizzard has been hit with lawsuits for sexual harassment, discrimination, and misogyny. The company settled a lawsuit for $18 million in March of this year. Investigations by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment uncovered a toxic workplace culture and environment.
One former employee detailed regular harassment, being propositioned for sex, demotions, and continued harassment.