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Yet another Activision Blizzard studio has formed a union

Recently acquired Proleteriat are third studio this year

Staff at another Activision Blizzard studio have formed a union. Proletariat, the developers of Spellbreak, was bought by Blizzard in June and put to work on World Of Warcraft: Dragonflight. Now staff have formed a union with the Communication Workers Of America (CWA) and are asking Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognise it.

"Everyone in the video game industry knows Activision Blizzard’s reputation for creating a hostile work environment, so earlier this year, when we heard that Blizzard was planning to acquire Proletariat, we started to discuss how we could protect the great culture we have created here," said Dustin Yost, a Software Engineer at Proletariat, in a press release. The newly formed group, called Proletariat Workers Alliance (PWA), also posted their vision statement in a Twitter thread.

The PWA consists of Proletariat staff from different departments within the company, including "animators, designers, engineers, producers and quality assurance workers". That makes the PWA distinct from the two previous unions that have formed at Activision Blizzard studios earlier this year, which focused specifically on quality assurance workers at Raven Software and at Blizzard Albany.

In the case of both those studios, Activision Blizzard refused to voluntarily recognise the union, prompting the staff to take their fight to the United States' National Labor Relations Board. In both cases the NLRB ruled in favour of the workers, and both groups subsequently held official employee votes to form a union.

As part of those fights, the CWA - under which the Raven Software and Blizzard Albany unions also formed - have filed an unfair labour charge against Activision Blizzard, accusing the publisher of "disparaging the union, making threats to withhold raises and benefit improvements from workers who joined the union, and giving workers an impression that their union affiliation and/or support was under surveillance."

Activision Blizzard are facing fights on other fronts. Microsoft have bid to buy the publisher for $69 billion, but earlier this month the US Federal Trade Commission sued to block the acquisition. Activision Blizzard had previously expressed their intent to fight any challenge to the deal. While Activision Blizzard have sought to discourage staff from forming unions, Microsoft have signed a labour neutrality agreement with the CWA.

Before being bought by Activision Blizzard, Proletariat were best known for developing mage royale Spellbreak. Spellbreak is due to shut down early next year.

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Graham Smith


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