Boston-based workers world of warcraft Support Studio Proletariat (also known as Blizzard Boston) will withdraw their petition to the National Labor Relations Board and not vote for the union. They published a petition in late December, but withdrew it on Tuesday.
A representative for Communications Workers of America blamed management’s “confrontational tactics” for withdrawing the petition, claiming the company held “a series of meetings that demoralized and disempowered the group, making free and fair elections impossible.”
The Proletariat Workers Alliance secured the company’s current paid leave plans, as well as flexible remote options, health benefits, and prioritized transparency and diversity.
With the petition withdrawn, the workers of the proletariat will not vote for the union.
“We appreciate the CWA’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the petition in response to employee feedback,” Vice President of Media Relations Joe Christinat said in a statement to Polygon. “As we said, we welcomed the opportunity for each employee to safely express their preferences by secret ballot. Our team of proletariat does something special every day. They continue to focus on working with the team to make the proletariat a place where everyone can grow, prosper and be part of an amazing team and culture.”
Dustin Yost, a software engineer at Proletariat, said in a statement issued through the CWA that originally most workers supported the union. The worker told management that a “meeting that characterized the conversation as a personal betrayal” took a toll on that support. “While we genuinely hope that we will withdraw our union election petition today and management will prioritize the concerns that have driven us to organize, I still believe unions are the best way to ensure that our voices are heard by workers in our industry.” said Yost.
Kat Dolan, a proletarian user interface artist and user experience designer, told Polygon that some of the other workers who described themselves as pro-workers felt the process was rushed. Dolan disputed the characterization, which she said management had abandoned the union’s efforts. She said some workers were “disillusioned” with the process and that if they had taken a different approach, things would have ended differently.
The Proletariat Workers Alliance was scheduled to vote with the National Labor Relations Board, the same process that Raven Software and Blizzard Albany’s QA unions went through. Activision Blizzard contested the election for both studios and sought to extend the proposed bargaining unit beyond QA testers.
Companies sometimes struggle to increase the size of their units to undermine unionization efforts and increase the odds of a failed union vote. However, the 2022 NLRB ruling has made it easier for organizers to assemble small groups within a company (called microunits), which puts the responsibility on the company to provide overwhelming evidence that the group must be open.
The CWA has filed multiple wrongful labor lawsuits against Activision Blizzard for its union-busting tactics. Activision Blizzard representatives have denied any wrongdoing.
Seth Sivak founded Proletariat in 2012 and the studio has operated independently, working on games such as: spell break And StreamLegends Until Activision Blizzard acquires the studio in 2022, Sivak is currently VP of Development at Blizzard Entertainment, overseeing Boston-based Proletariat studio. world of warcraft. Developer Allison Brown, a software engineer under test, told Polygon in early January that union discussions had begun before the takeover, but there had been some tumultuous working with the company.
“There was a fear that suddenly by being part of a larger organization, we might lose some of what made the proletariat special,” Brown said.
“No matter how high the trust in management is, […], the situation may change. I entered the industry 14 years ago and have been laid off more than once. I’ve seen benefits change and get worse. You can’t control it. But if we do collective bargaining and put these things in writing, there are mechanisms in place to make our voices heard.”
After the petition was published, the proletariat leadership posted a blog that disapproved of the proletariat unions, forcing the unions to vote with the National Labor Relations Board. The proletarian leadership described the company as “pro-worker” and hinted that some workers were concerned, which is why the management wanted an anonymous vote.
Activision Blizzard’s response to previous unionization efforts contrasted with Microsoft’s so-called Labor Neutrality Agreement. The agreement, signed by CWA, allows Microsoft to protect current Microsoft employees or potential employees who will join Microsoft as part of a $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard (currently in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit).
That agreement was tested late last year when ZeniMax Media’s QA staff, responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout, announced their intention to unionize. Microsoft agreed to recognize the union after a quick vote outside the NLRB. The company was able to avoid a lot of bureaucracy thanks to the Neutrality Agreement. ZeniMax QA employees voted through union approval cards and online portals, and a majority of workers pledged their support to the union.
Update (January 9): This story has been updated to include comments from Activision Blizzard.
Update (January 10th): On Monday, proletarian leadership published a blog post disapproving of proletarian unions, forcing unions to vote with the National Labor Relations Board. The proletarian leadership described the company as “pro-worker”.
The Proletarian Workers League countered that not recognizing the overwhelming majority of signed union cards was anti-union. “Their actions this week stem from the union-busting script used by Activision and many other companies,” the workers wrote in a statement. “Last week management opened City Hall, disappointing many employees. The meeting was inappropriate because of the anti-union influence.”
Workers continued to say: “We can decide for ourselves if we want a union. I don’t need any help from management. We need and deserve respect and neutrality. We want to do things right in our team and work with management without contention. We can help make the proletariat the best by having each other’s backs.”
Update (January 24): The proletarian workers withdrew their union petition on 24 January. This story has been updated to reflect new information.
Update (January 24): Activision Blizzard responded to the CWA’s withdrawn petition by saying:
We appreciate the CWA’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the petition based on staff feedback. As we noted, we welcomed the opportunity for each employee to safely express their preferences by secret ballot. Our team of proletariat does something special every day. They remain focused on working with the team to continue making the proletariat a place where everyone can grow and thrive and be part of an amazing team and culture.
Update (January 25th): This story has been updated to include comments from other proletarian workers.