Blizzard Albany Announces Union Bid, Forms Albany Game Workers Alliance

The Blizzard Albany team says colleagues at Raven Software have been an inspiration.

The quality assurance testers of Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, have filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). As the Albany Game Workers Alliance,  the workers have requested Activision Blizzard voluntarily recognize their union.

Blizzard Albany (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Diablo II: Resurrected) is now the second group of workers under Activision Blizzard to formally request representation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). In May, the QA team at Raven Software made company history through their bid, becoming the first certified union at Activision Blizzard in a 19-3 vote. Among their goals, the Albany Game Workers Alliance seeks to secure fair compensation, improved benefits, addressing title disparities, and protocols surrounding periods of crunch.

Despite what the CWA described to Polygon as Activision Blizzard following the “anti-union playbook,” workers at the company continue to fight by organizing.

“There’s issues in the video game industry that often go unnoticed because our work is seen as more of a passion instead of a job,” said associate test analyst Amanda Laven. “Quality assurance workers deserve fair treatment and proper compensation for the work we do which is why we chose to form a union. Building the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA with my fellow co-workers will create a mechanism that allows us to make our voices heard. We know that by having a seat at the table our union will not only give us structure and power, but also give us a path forward to improve our workplace because management won’t be able to ignore us all anymore.”

According to the CWA, 95% of QA testers have signed the vision statement requesting Activision Blizzard recognize their union. Brock Davis, another test analyst at the Albany studio, called colleagues at Raven Software inspiring after winning their bid.

In addition to union efforts, Activision Blizzard workers coordinate and advocate through ABetterABK initiatives. This Thursday, July 21, the newly formed Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination has planned a walkout. In the wake of the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and rampant anti-trans legislation, the committee demands better protections for women, LGBTQIA+ employees, and their families.

July 22 will mark one year since The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard for its “frat boy” culture. Since news of the lawsuit broke, Activision Blizzard has bizarrely maintained it hasn’t done anything wrong. However, private emails at the company seem to disagree. And, despite complaints specifically about CEO Bobby Kotick and heinous behavior regarding public coverage, the Activision Blizzard board voted to reelect him. It also declined to add an employee representative to the board.