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Another Blizzard QA department wins union vote

Workers at Blizzard’s Albany, New York offices — organized as GWA Albany under the Communications Workers of America (CWA) — have won their union vote, making them the publisher’s second union and the third overall union in the US video game industry. The vote was a majority decision — 14 “yes” votes out of a total possible 18 votes — marking an important step in Blizzard Albany’s unionization process that began in July of this year.

“With this victory, we’re advocating for ourselves and each other because we care deeply about our work and the games we make,” said Amanda Deep, associate test analyst at Blizzard Albany, in a CWA press release celebrating the win. “Our colleagues at Raven inspired us when they announced the formation of the Game Workers Alliance / CWA. We can only hope that our win will continue to grow the labor movement at other video game studios across the country.”

Earlier this year, QA workers at Raven Software, one of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty support studios, organized and won the company’s first union. QA workers were also leading this unionization effort, bringing national attention to QA worker complaints of low wages and overwork conditions.

Also, as in Raven’s case, Blizzard Albany’s unionization efforts were met with fierce opposition from its publishing parent. Throughout 2022, the CWA filed several unfair labor complaints against Activision Blizzard, accusing it of infringing on employees’ protected organizing rights and withholding raises from workers at Raven involved in unionization activity. Activision Blizzard’s petition to have the union vote expanded to all employees at Albany was recently denied shortly after an actual blizzard postponed the union vote that was to take place on November 18th.

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In a statement to The Verge, Activision spokesperson Joe Christinat said, “We are considering all options, with a focus on what is best for all employees and to provide the best games for our millions of players. We still believe our entire Albany team should have the right to vote. This is about fundamental fairness and rights for every member of the team.”

Now both parties have five days to file objections, and if none are filed, GWA Albany will start the bargaining process as it and Activision Blizzard attempt to form a contract. Raven Software’s union has been involved in the contract process for over a year now.

Update December 2nd, 1:20 PM ET: Added statements from Activision Blizzard and a member of GWA Albany.

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