The second worker group within video game holding company Activision Blizzard to mount a public unionization campaign has voted to join the Communications Workers of America in a National Labor Relations Board ballot count.
Fourteen quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany voted to join the union in a count on Friday, while no workers voted against the union. There were a total of 18 eligible voters, with one ballot voided and three challenged by the employer. The CWA, which won its first union election at the company in May, initially sought to organize 21 quality assurance testers with the election. The Hollywood Reporter observed the ballot count over Zoom on Friday.
Both Activision Blizzard and the CWA have five days to file any objections to the election results, and if they do not, these results will be certified. Prior to Friday’s election, management asked for a board review of the election, which the NLRB denied on Wednesday “as [the decision to hold an election] raises no substantial issues warranting review,” as the chairman and two members of the NLRB wrote in their decision.
“It took an unbelievable amount of work and perseverance to move this fight forward. With this victory, we’re advocating for ourselves and each other because we care deeply about our work and the games we make. Organizing has empowered all of us to fight hard for the dignity and respect every worker deserves on the job,” Blizzard Albany associate test analyst Amanda Deep said in a statement. “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.”
Added Activision spokesperson Joe Christinat, “We are considering various 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.”
The ballot count was originally scheduled to take place on Friday, Nov. 18; however, it was postponed due to a major snowstorm in the Buffalo, NY area.
When they first announced their intent to unionize in July, the Blizzard Albany group said they sought to address benefits, pay and health care issues, make changes to work-life balance and tackle alleged pay disparities. “There are issues in the video game industry that often go unaddressed because our work is considered a passion instead of a job,” Blizzard Albany associate test analyst Amanda Laven said in a statement at the time. “Quality assurance workers deserve fair treatment and proper compensation for the work we do which is why we chose to form a union.”
In May a group of 19 quality assurance testers at a Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Activision Blizzard voted to join the CWA, thus becoming the first union at the video game behemoth. That vote represented a key test of whether the movement to unionize video games could break into a AAA studio.
Dec. 2, 12:09 p.m. Updated with Activision spokesperson statement.