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Gaming

Blizzard Boston developers blame boss for torpedoing Union

A person watches a dragon fly over them in art for World of Warcraft.

Image: Blizzard

Employees at Proletariat Studio, also known as Blizzard Boston, will not become a union. The Communications Workers of America Union announced Tuesday that it will withdraw its petition for a union election and blames Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak for treating workers’ organizing efforts as personal betrayals and holding a series of meetings to undermine them.

“CWA has withdrawn its request for a representation election in Activision Blizzard’s Proletariat studio,” a spokesperson wrote in a press release. “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. Like many founders, he took the workers’ concerns as a personal attack and held a series of rallies that demoralized and disempowered the group, making free and fair elections impossible.”

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Workers at Proletariat, who organized with CWA under the name Proletariat Workers Alliance, would have been the third union within Activision Blizzard if their bid was successful. The group announced their intentions last month, claiming that a vast majority had already signed union cards in support. After Activision Blizzard refused to voluntarily recognize the unionhowever, an election with the National Labor Relations Board was required. It now appears that CWA and Proletariat Workers Alliance do not feel they have the necessary support to win a majority vote.

The groups claim this is at least in part due to rallies held by Sivak to undermine their efforts. “Unfortunately, our CEO responded by holding meetings that instead framed the conversation as personal betrayal [of] respecting our right to come together to protect ourselves and sit down at the table, especially after Activision Blizzard acquired Proletariat,” Proletariat software engineer Dustin Yost said in a statement. “Those encounters took their toll.”

Oddly enough, despite these allegations, CWA does not appear to be pursuing a union fraud suit with the NLRB in this case. That’s in stark contrast to other union battles at places like Starbucks and Amazon, where allegations of management interference have surfaced. high-profile legal challenges. CWA has also filed union fraud charges against Activision Blizzard in the past.

Proletariat was founded by Sivak and four others after Zynga closed its Boston studio in 2012. It was funded by venture capital to work on mobile games before later moving to console releases with a free-to-play shooter. Spelling breach. It was then acquired by Activision Blizzard last summer to work on World of Warcraftstarting with the recently released dragon flight extension.

Unlike the company’s Raven Software and Blizzard Albany studios, whose quality assurance departments successfully unionized last year, workers from the Proletariat sought to unite the entire studio, including all developers outside of those in senior management positions. That was a much more ambitious effort, and it’s unclear how much disagreement over who would eventually be included in the proposed negotiating unit contributed to the effort’s unravelling. Axios also previously reported that some current employees felt the union push had come too quickly.

“While today we withdraw our petition for the union election and really hope that management will prioritize the concerns that led us to organize, I still believe union is the best way for workers in our industry to ensure make sure our voice is heard.” said Yost.

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