A green dragon stands in front of the player for customization, tucking its wings in next to its body and standing on its back legs, in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight.

A green dragon stands in front of the player for customization, tucking its wings in next to its body and standing on its back legs, in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight.

As two unions under Activision Blizzard transfer ahead into contract negotiations, a third subsidiary studio is organizing. Workers at Boston-based World of Warcraft support studio Proletariat are unionizing under the Communications Workers of America, similar to Raven Software and Blizzard Albany earlier than them. Proletariat’s group of 57 staff, which incorporates all of the studio’s positions besides administration, is known as Proletariat Workers Alliance. They introduced their petition in late December.

Activision Blizzard has not responded to the request for voluntary recognition.

Proletariat Workers Alliance is wanting to safe the corporate’s present paid time-off plan, in addition to versatile distant choices, healthcare advantages, and making certain transparency and variety are prime priorities.

“Our top priority remains our employees, and we value the contributions the talented Proletariat team has made since joining Blizzard this summer,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson mentioned in an announcement issued to Polygon on Friday. “We received the petition over the holidays and will provide a response to the NLRB next week.”

“At Proletariat and with our peers across the industry, many of us love our jobs,” Proletariat senior engineer Dustin Yost instructed Polygon. “We at Proletariat care a lot about our team. We want to make sure we have a real voice in our future, in order to have a positive impact on our company for the benefit of our team, our company, and anyone enjoying the content we create. Doing right by each other is the goal here.”

With Activision Blizzard’s recognition of the union pending, Proletariat Workers Alliance will possible go to a vote with the National Labor Relations Board — the identical course of that each Raven Software and Blizzard Albany’s QA unions went by way of. Activision Blizzard challenged the election in each studios’ circumstances, and sought to increase the proposed bargaining unit past QA testers.

Companies generally combat to increase the scale of a unit to water down union group efforts, to enhance the likelihood of a union vote failing. But an NLRB ruling in 2022 made it simpler for organizers to unionize smaller teams inside an organization (referred to as micro-units), which places the onus on an organization to present overwhelming proof {that a} group ought to be opened up.

CWA has filed a number of unfair labor complaints in opposition to Activision Blizzard for its alleged union-busting ways; Activision Blizzard representatives have denied any wrongdoing. For Proletariat, the expanded unit possible gained’t be a problem: The group is already wanting to embody all non-managerial staff.

Seth Sivak based Proletariat in 2012, and the studio operated independently, engaged on video games like Spellbreak and StreamLegends till Activision Blizzard acquired the studio in 2022. Sivak is now vp of growth at Blizzard Entertainment, overseeing the Boston-based Proletariat studio, which is now engaged on World of Warcraft. Allison Brown, a software program engineer developer in testing, instructed Polygon that union speak began earlier than the acquisition, however across the rumblings of working with the corporate.

“There was a concern that suddenly becoming part of a bigger organization that we might lose some of the things that made Proletariat special,” Brown mentioned.

She continued: “No matter how much trust we have for management […], things can change. I started in the industry 14 years ago, I’ve been laid off more than once. I’ve watched benefits change and get worse. There’s no control over it. But if we’re bargaining collectively, if we get these things in writing, there are mechanisms in place to make sure that we have a voice.”

Raven Software and Blizzard Albany each gained their union votes in 2022. The subsequent step for them is negotiating a contract with Activision Blizzard; each unions can have separate contracts. Should Proletariat’s staff vote in favor of their union, they’ll do the identical, once more with their very own, separate contract.

Activision Blizzard’s response to earlier unionizing efforts has been in distinction with Microsoft’s so-called labor neutrality settlement. The settlement, signed with CWA, implies that Microsoft is not going to intervene with organizing efforts on the firm — neither with present Microsoft staff, or with staff doubtlessly becoming a member of Microsoft as half of its $68.7 billion deal to purchase Activision Blizzard (at present topic to a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit).

That settlement was examined late final yr when QA staff at ZeniMax Media, chargeable for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Fallout, introduced their intention to unionize. Microsoft agreed to acknowledge the union after a speedy vote outdoors of the NLRB; the corporate was in a position to sidestep so much of the paperwork as a result of of the neutrality settlement. ZeniMax QA staff voted by way of union authorization playing cards and a web-based portal, the place a supermajority of staff pledged support for the union.

“Proletariat as a company has always had strong values of transparency and respectful collaboration and understand why those values are important to us,” Yost mentioned. “We believe that unionization is the culmination of these values, and we want to work collaboratively with management. We hope they’re going to choose to remain neutral and voluntarily recognize our union.”

Update (Jan. 9): This story has been up to date to embody remark from Activision Blizzard.

Update (Jan. 10): On Monday, Proletariat management printed a weblog through which it declined to acknowledge the Proletariat union, forcing the union to a vote with the National Labor Relations Board. Proletariat management described the corporate as “pro-worker.”

The Proletariat Workers Alliance disputed that, saying that not recognizing the supermajority of signed union playing cards is anti-union. “Their actions this week have been right out of the union-busting playbook used by Activision and so many others,” staff wrote in an announcement. “Management held a town hall last week which disappointed many of our workers. The meeting was inappropriate due to its anti-union influence.”

Workers continued: “We can decide for ourselves if we want a union. 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. We can help make Proletariat the best it can be by having each others backs.”

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