Workers at World of Warcraft studio Proletariat withdraw union petition

As two unions under Activision Blizzard move forward in contract negotiations, a third branch studio begins to prepare. Boston workers World of Warcraft Pro-Proletariat studios tried to unite under American communications workers such as Raven Software and Blizzard Albany before them. The workers announced their petition in late December but withdrew their applications on Tuesday.

A representative of the United States Department of Communications issued the following statement:

The CWA has withdrawn its proposal for a representative election at Activision Blizzard’s Proletariat studio. Unfortunately, Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak chose to follow the lead of Activision Blizzard and responded to the workers’ desire to form a union with a confrontational strategy. Like many founders, he took the workers’ concerns as personal attacks and convened a series of meetings that discouraged and authorized the group, making free and fair elections impossible.

As we have seen at Microsoft Zenimax Studios, there is another way forward that empowers workers through a free and fair process without intimidation or manipulation by employers. We will continue to advocate with workers in the video game industry for better working conditions, higher standards and union voices.

With the withdrawal, workers in Proletariat will not vote for a union.

“We are pleased that the CWA has unilaterally decided to withdraw its petition in response to staff comments,” media communications VP Joe Christinat said in a statement to Polygon. “As we have said, we welcome the opportunity for each employee to express their preferences safely through a secret ballot. Our team at Proletariat works wonders every day. They continue to focus on working with their team to continue to make the Proletariat a place where everyone can thrive and be part of a great team and culture.

Dustin Yost, a software engineer at Proletariat, said in a statement issued through the CWA that most workers initially supported the union. The workers said “meetings that defined the conversation as personal betrayal” to managers undermined that support. “While we are withdrawing our union election petition today and really hope that the management will prioritize the concerns that lead us to organize, I still believe that the union is the best way for workers in our industry. To ensure that our voices are heard, ”Yost said.

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The Proletariat Workers Alliance is seeking to secure the company’s current paid vacation plans, as well as flexible remote options, health care benefits and ensuring transparency and diversity are top priorities.

An Activision Blizzard spokesman said in a statement issued to Polygon when the petition was filed: “Our top priority is still our staff and we value the contribution that Proletariat has made. “The talent has been there since joining Blizzard this summer.” We received the petition on holiday and will provide a response to the NLRB next week.

“At Proletariat and with our friends across the industry, many of us love our work,” Proletariat senior engineer Yost told Polygon in early January before the petition was withdrawn. “We at Proletariat take great care of our team. We want to make sure we have a real voice in our future to have a positive impact on our company, for the benefit of our team, our company and “Someone who enjoys the content we create. Mutual matching is the goal here.”

The Proletariat Coalition is set to go to the polls with the National Labor Relations Council, the same process that both Raven Software and Blizzard Albany’s QA went through. Activision Blizzard contested the election in both studio cases and tried to expand the proposed negotiating unit beyond QA testers.

Companies sometimes quarrel over expanding unit size to reduce union efforts to increase the probability of a failed election. But the NLRB decision in 2022 has made it easier for organizers to unite small groups within a company (called a micro-unit) that puts a burden on a company to provide overwhelming evidence that a group should Opened.

The CWA has filed several unfair labor lawsuits against Activision Blizzard over allegations of union manipulation. Activision Blizzard representatives denied wrongdoing.

Seth Sivak founded Proletariat in 2012 and the studio operates independently, working on games such as Spelling And Legendary stream Until Activision Blizzard acquires the studio in 2022. Sivak is now vice president of development at Blizzard Entertainment, overseeing Boston-based Proletariat Studios, which is currently working on World of Warcraft. Allison Brown, the creator of the software engineer in the test, told Polygon that the union talks began before the acquisition, but around the chaos of working with the company.

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“There is a concern that immediately becomes part of a larger organization that we may lose some of the things that make the Proletariat special,” Brown said.

“No matter how much we trust the management,” she said. […], Everything can change. I started in the industry 14 years ago, I was fired more than once. I watched the benefits shift and got worse. There is no control over it. But if we negotiate collectively, if we get these things in writing, there is a mechanism to make sure We have a voice. ”

After the petition was announced, the Proletariat leadership published a blog in which it refused to recognize the Proletariat union, forcing it to vote with the National Labor Relations Council. The Proletariat leadership described the company as “laborist” and implied that some workers were concerned, which is why managers want to hold elections.

The Proletariat Coalition has objected, saying the non-recognition of most of the signed union cards is anti-union. “Their actions this week were right out of the playbook blocking unions used by Activision and more,” the workers wrote in a statement. “Management held a town hall last week, which disappointed many of our workers,” he said. “This meeting is not appropriate because of the anti-union influence.”

“We can decide for ourselves if we want a union. We do not need the help of an administrator. We need – and deserve – respect and neutrality. We want to do the right thing by our team and cooperate with the manager without conflict. We can help make the Proletariat the best it can be with mutual help.

Activision Blizzard’s response to previous unification efforts contradicts the so-called Microsoft Labor Neutrality Agreement. The agreement signed with CWA means that Microsoft will not interfere in the organization’s efforts, either by current Microsoft employees or with potential workers joining Microsoft as part of its $ 68.7 billion deal. To obtain Activision Blizzard (currently subject to Federal Trade. Commission Complaint).

The deal was tested late last year when QA employees at ZeniMax Media, which is responsible for exclusive rights such as The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout, announced their intention to merge. Microsoft agreed to recognize the union after a by-election outside the NLRB. Companies can walk away from bureaucracy because of the neutrality agreement. ZeniMax QA workers voted through union authorization cards and online portals, most of which pledged to support the union.

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Update (January 9): This story has been updated to include comments from Activision Blizzard.

Update (January 10): On Monday, Proletariat leaders published a blog in which they refused to recognize the Proletariat union, forcing it to vote with the National Labor Relations Council. Proletariat leadership described the company as “laborist”.

The Proletariat Coalition has objected, saying the non-recognition of most of the signed union cards is anti-union. “Their actions this week were right out of the playbook blocking unions used by Activision and more,” the workers wrote in a statement. “Management held a town hall last week, which disappointed many of our workers,” he said. “This meeting is not appropriate because of the anti-union influence.”

“We can decide for ourselves if we want a union. We do not need the help of an administrator. We need – and deserve – respect and neutrality. We want to do the right thing by our team and work with the manager without conflict. We can help make the Proletariat the best it can be with mutual help.

Update (January 24): Workers at the Proletariat withdrew the union petition on January 24. This story has been updated to reflect the latest news.

Update (January 24): Activision Blizzard responds to CWA withdrawal petition:

We are pleased that CWA has unilaterally decided to withdraw its petition in response to staff feedback. As we have said, we welcome the opportunity for each employee to safely express their preferences through a secret ballot. Our team at Proletariat works wonders every day. They continue to focus on working with their team to continue to make the Proletariat a place where everyone can thrive and be part of a great team and culture.

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