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Blizzard Albany QA testers vote unanimously in favour of unionising

After months of fighting for the right to vote

Quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, voted unanimously to unionise on Friday. The move comes after months of attempts by owners Activision Blizzard to scupper the union and makes the QA testers, under the name Game Workers Alliance Albany, the second team to unionise within the publisher.

The National Labor Relations Board said there were 18 eligible voters in the election, with 14 voting yes on the union and no one voting against it. GWA Albany are partnered with the larger Communications Workers Of America union.

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"With this victory, we’re advocating for ourselves and each other because we care deeply about our work and the games we make," said Blizzard Albany tester Amanda Deep in a statement. "Organizing has empowered all of us to fight hard for the dignity and respect every worker deserves on the job."

"We are considering all options, with a focus on what is best for all employees and to provide the best games for our millions of players," said an Activision Blizzard spokesperson in a statement provided to Polygon. "We still believe our entire Albany team should have the right to vote. This is about fundamental fairness and rights for every member of the team."

Activision Blizzard had argued that all Blizzard Albany employees, not just quality assurance staff, should be allowed to vote on whether the quality assurance staff could form a union. The NLRB rejected that argument on appeal earlier this week, writing that, "The testers have a separate department and separate supervision; perform a distinct function, utilizing distinct skills; and have notably lower wages than the excluded employees."

In October, the Communication Workers Of America filed an unfair labour charge against Activision Blizzard after a communications executive allegedly used an internal Slack channel to disparage the union.

Earlier this year, Activision Blizzard made the same argument that all staff should be allowed to vote as QA workers at Raven Software organised to form their own union. The arguments were likewise rejected by the NLRB and the Raven Software employees likewise subsequently voted in favour of forming a union.

Blizzard Albany primarily work on the Diablo series, including Diablo 2 Resurrected and the upcoming Diablo 4. Under the name Vicarious Visions, the studio's history stretches back to 1991, and their most recent solo development project was 2020's Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 remake.

Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard are in the process of being bought by Microsoft for $69 billion, pending approval by regulators in the US and EU. Microsoft say they won't block the unionisation efforts and in June signed a labour neutrality agreement with the CWA.

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