Blizzard Albany QA testers vote unanimously to unionize

Quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, voted unanimously to join forces on Friday. The move comes after months of attempts by owners Activision Blizzard to eradicate the union and makes the QA testers, under the name Game Workers Alliance Albany, the second team to join forces at the publisher.

The National Labor Relations Board said there were 18 eligible voters in the election, with 14 voting for the union and none voting against it. GWA Albany works with the larger union Communications Workers Of America.

“With this win, we speak up for ourselves and each other because we care deeply about our work and the games we make,” Blizzard Albany tester Amanda Deep said in a statement. “The organization has given us all the power to fight hard for the dignity and respect every worker deserves at work.”

“We are considering all options, focusing on what is best for all employees and providing the best games for our millions of players,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said in a statement provided to Polygon. “We still believe our entire Albany team should have the right to vote. This is about basic fairness and rights for every member of the team.”

Activision Blizzard had argued that all Blizzard Albany employees, not just quality assurance employees, should be allowed to vote on whether quality assurance staff could form a union. The NLRB rejected that argument on appeal earlier this week, writing that “The testers have a separate department and separate supervision; perform a distinct function, use distinct skills; and are paid substantially less than the excluded employees.”

In October, the Communication Workers Of America filed an unfair labor charge against Activision Blizzard after a communications manager allegedly used an internal Slack channel to disparage the union.

Earlier this year, Activision Blizzard made the same argument that all employees should be allowed to vote as QA workers at Raven Software organized to form their own union. The arguments were also rejected by the NLRB and Raven Software employees also later voted to form a union.

Blizzard Albany primarily works on the Diablo series, including Diablo 2 Resurrected and the upcoming Diablo 4. Under the name Vicarious Visions, the studio’s history stretches back to 1991, and their last solo development project was 2020’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 remake.

Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard is in the process of being bought by Microsoft for $69 billion, pending approval from US and EU regulators. Microsoft said it will not block union efforts and in June signed a labor neutrality agreement with the CWA.

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