Leadership at Proletariat, the developer behind Spellbreak that was acquired by Activision Blizzard to assist on World of Warcraft, won’t voluntarily recognize worker unionization efforts. Instead, leadership has filed for a union vote through the National Labor Relations Board.
Members of Proletariat formed the Proletariat Workers Alliance with help from the Communication Workers of America in December in response to the studio’s acquisition. In a new blog post, Proletariat leadership describes themselves as “pro-worker,” pointing out that the studio’s name derives from the dissatisfaction the studio’s founders experienced elsewhere in the video game industry. Leadership states that choosing to seek a NLRB election over voluntarily recognizing the new studio union is more fair and “allows employees to get all the information and various points of view.”
In response to @proletariat_inc leadership’s blog in which it declined to voluntarily recognize the supermajority of @WeArePWA_CWA signed cards + force the union to a vote with the NLRB, Proletariat workers have released a statement:
“Everyone deserves a union.” 1/
— CODE-CWA (@CODE_CWA) January 10, 2023
Members of the Proletariat Workers Alliance disagree. In a statement through CWA, the Proletariat Workers Alliance states that management’s actions have not been “pro-worker” and instead have come “right out of the union-busting playbook used by Activision and so many others.” The union states that a recent “town hall” meeting at the studio was demonstrably anti-union, and occurred the same day that ZeniMax Workers United announced their union had been voluntarily recognized by parent-company Microsoft.
“We can decide for ourselves if we want a union,” the Proletariat Workers Alliance statement reads. “We don’t need help from management. We need–and deserve–respect and neutrality. We want to do right by our team and collaborate with management without contention.”
The Proletariat Workers Alliance is far from the first union within Activision Blizzard that has had to go through the NLRB in order to be recognized. Quality assurance workers at both Raven Software and Blizzard Albany sought to have their unions recognized by leadership, only to have those requests denied. The burgeoning unions instead held elections through the NLRB, both of which were approved by a majority of workers in each group despite Activision Blizzard’s claims that groups of QA workers at each studio were not eligible for unionization.
Should Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard clear legal hurdles, other studios looking to unionize within Activision Blizzard would likely have an easier time in the future. That’s because Microsoft signed a labor neutrality agreement with CWA last year that will make it easier, not harder, for employees to join or form unions, should the acquisition go through.