After a long, hard fight, Call of Duty studio Raven Software became the first major video game union in May of this year. Now, another studio under the Activision Blizzard banner is looking to capitalize on that precedent.
The Game Workers Alliance of Albany is “a new union at Activision Blizzard.” In a Twitter thread, the group laid out its mission statement and list of demands. “We strive to foster work environments where we are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process,” it reads. Fair compensation, transparent communication, and improved work-life balance are among the demands that GWA Albany asks Activision Blizzard to “voluntarily recognize without retaliation or interference.” It’s all pretty par for the course when it comes to the unionization process, but it’s nonetheless important.
Despite the request for no interference, some level of conflict is to be expected as GWA Albany works toward recognition. Activision Blizzard management urged Raven Software employees to vote no on their own unionization, although the QA workers did manage to win in the end. At the very least, Microsoft has pledged that the Xbox acquisition of Activision Blizzard will not affect unionization efforts.
That acquisition, which was overwhelmingly approved by shareholders, has brought many internal problems to light at Activision Blizzard. CEO Bobby Kotick was also re-elected to his seat despite those ongoing controversies. Even so, he’s the target of a New York City lawsuit over his mismanagement of the issues. Specifically, it alleges that he hurried along the Xbox deal in order to escape culpability. Despite all of these problems, Activision Blizzard ran an internal audit and found no wrongdoing — a laughable, predictable conclusion. Fortunately, the company has since voted in favor of a public report on workplace discrimination.
Most recently, controversial reproductive rights rulings in the United States have drawn more ire from Activision Blizzard employees. The workers have scheduled another walkout in light of the new legislation.