Blizzard Albany votes to form a new QA union under the GWA umbrella

Workers hope the Blizzard Albany QA union will be an inspiration for other workers in QA and throughout the industry to organize and demand better conditions

The QA team at Blizzard Albany has voted to form a union under the Communication Workers of America,  called Game Workers Alliance Albany, similar to their QA counterparts at Raven Studio. Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions until April 2022, filed the decision with the National Labor Relations Board and requested recognition from Activision Blizzard on July 14, before making the news public on Twitter and explaining the reasons behind their choice to The Washington Post.

The new union listed several of the issues they hope to address on Twitter, including fair pay and transparency, better benefits, improved communication and work-life balance. The union said they hope this step is an important one in getting QA teams throughout the industry the respect and compensation commensurate with their role in the game development process.

“I firmly believe that having the union is going to give us the power that we need to make our workplace better,” Amanda Leven, an associate test analyst at Blizzard Albany, told The Washington Post. “It’s very exciting to go public with it and hopefully be able to inspire others the way that we’ve been inspired by Raven, and Starbucks and Amazon and all the unions that have come before us.”

Leven also said seeing Raven’s attempts helped in “demystifying” the process, giving Blizzard Albany a better idea of what to expect from the process – and the company. So far, Blizzard has not issues a public statement recognizing the union or rejecting it. However, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told The Washington Post that the company would provide a public and formal response to the NLRB soon.

Whether the company chooses to voluntarily recognize Blizzard Albany’s union is mostly irrelevant, from a practical perspective at least. U.S. labor laws required Activision Blizzard to recognize and negotiate with Raven’s QA union earlier in 2022, though that didn’t stop the company from retaliating by excluding union members from salary raises.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said earlier in the year that it would recognize all unions and deals made once its acquisition of Activision Blizzard is finally confirmed.