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Activision Blizzard Albany QA Workers Forming a Union

July 19, 2022

By: Samantha Plaisance

 
 

Quality Assurance testers at Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions) have announced that they are forming a union to stand up against workplace discrimination and to fight for fair pay. The QA testers at Blizzard Albany go by GWA Albany on Twitter and stated that they believe that QA workers are completely undervalued as employees within the gaming industry and that it is time for that to change. 

GWA Albany states that they strive to foster a nurturing environment where everyone is treated fairly and paid fairly. They demand that their skills and values be respected and have teamed up with the CWAUnion to form this new union. The union is currently asking for a more competitive and fair wage for their work and more transparency regarding their pay rates. GWA Albany also asks for better benefits, including healthcare, on top of the company addressing the disparity in titles and compensation to recognize the quality of work that the QA testers bring to the table. 

 

They go on to ask for a more transparent process, where lines of communication within the workplace are open for those who wish to address misconduct and retaliation. GWA also says they would like a better work-life balance, as the current deadlines are too much to bear. They believe that by forming this union, they are giving themselves "a seat at the table" when addressing Activision Blizzard's employee concerns. They kindly ask that Activision Blizzard respects their choice to form this union and not act out against them for doing so, addressing them directly on Twitter. 

Video game journalist Stephen Totilo tweeted in response to GWA's initial post, stating,

 
 

"An Activision rep tells me the company will "publicly and formally" provide a response to the NLRB And uses company's now-familiar line: "We believe that a direct relationship between the company and its employees is the most productive relationship".

This is not the first QA union that has formed together to fight against their employers' actions. In April 2022, BioWare's QA Contracting company filed for a union of their own. Even more recently, a walkout was planned by the employee-led Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination at Activision Blizzard, stating that they also believe they have been mistreated regarding the company's healthcare plan. Activision Blizzard also began speaking with the Raven Software Union, where it seems they have begun negotiating the union's requests for a more inclusive and welcoming workplace. Though it seems like the forming of these unions is on the rise, it has put a fire under the seats of many large gaming companies. Microsoft has even stated that they will now be formally recognizing unions that have been organized by the employees at Activision Blizzard. 

Activision Blizzard has been heavily criticized over allegations of toxic workplace culture and sexual harassment. These criticisms have come from several U.S. state treasurers, the heads of both PlayStation and Xbox, and a group of activist shareholders, among many others. The company is also embroiled in lawsuits, unionization disputes with staff, and conflicts with government agencies.