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Proletariat unionization vote request dropped

CWA union says studio meetings "demoralized and disempowered" workers, made a fair election impossible

Activision Blizzard has scored perhaps its biggest victory yet in its ongoing fight with unionizing employees, as the Communication Workers of America said it is withdrawing its request for a unionization vote at Proletariat.

"Unfortunately, Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak chose to follow Activision Blizzard's lead and responded to the workers' desire to form a union with confrontational tactics," the union said. "Like many founders, he took the workers' concerns as a personal attack and held a series of meetings that demoralized and disempowered the group, making a free and fair election impossible.

"As we have seen at Microsoft's Zenimax studio, there is another path forward, one that empowers workers through a free and fair process, without intimidation or manipulation by the employer. We will continue to advocate alongside workers in the video game industry for better working conditions, higher standards and a union voice."

A group of Proletariat employees announced late last year that they were forming a union at the studio, and already had the support of enough developers on staff to win a vote.

Activision Blizzard refused to acknowledge the union, instead calling for a formal vote with the National Labor Relations Board, saying that path "allows employees to get all the information and various points of view."

Activision Blizzard lost previous unionization votes at its Raven Software and Blizzard Albany studios.

However, those votes only applied to the QA staff of those studios; Proletariat would have been the first studio-wide unionization vote within Activision Blizzard's American studios.

Update: An Activision Blizzard representative responded to a request for comment, saying, "We appreciate that the CWA has unilaterally decided to withdraw its petition in response to employee feedback. As we've stated, we welcomed the opportunity for each employee to safely express their preferences through a confidential vote. Our team at Proletariat does extraordinary work every day. They remain focused on working with their teams to continue to make Proletariat a place where all can grow, thrive, and be part of an amazing team and culture."

The company later added a denial of the CWA's suggestion that Sivak demoralized employees, saying, "That is totally false. The Proletariat CEO was responding to concerns from employees who felt pressured or intimidated by CWA and wanted more information about what joining a union could mean. He was defending his employees' right to express their true preferences in a private vote, so they couldn't be targeted for their perspectives – like he himself is being targeted by the CWA right now."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.