Boston, Mass. — A supermajority of workers at Activision Blizzard’s Proletariat studio have announced that they are forming the Proletariat Workers Alliance/CWA and have filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. Prior to filing for an election, the workers asked that management voluntarily recognize their union and respect their right to organize without retaliation or interference. The company has not said whether or not they will recognize the union.
The Proletariat workers are the third group of Activision Blizzard workers to file for a union representation election with CWA. The 57 workers in the unit include animators, designers, engineers, producers and quality assurance workers. Earlier this year, quality assurance workers at Activision’s Raven Software studio in Wisconsin and Blizzard Albany won their union elections, despite Activision Blizzard’s repeated attempts to prevent workers from voting.
“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. “By forming a union and negotiating a contract, we can make sure that we are able to continue doing our best work and create innovative experiences at the frontier of game development.”
Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, and in early December, after workers at its ZeniMax video game studio decided to organize a union with CWA, the company agreed to remain neutral and agreed to a streamlined process for determining if a majority of workers wanted to join the union. Microsoft has entered into a legally binding agreement with CWA to remain neutral and provide a streamlined process for workers to choose union representation at Activision Blizzard if their acquisition of the company is successful.
“Activision leadership’s attempts to prevent its workers from joining together in a union have not only been a waste of time and money, they have caused further damage to morale and underlined the company’s reputation for creating a toxic, hostile work environment,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “Microsoft has shown that even the largest American corporations can choose a different path and allow workers to freely and fairly choose whether or not they want union representation. It’s not too late for Activision’s leadership to change course and begin to repair the company’s public image and the relationship with their workers by recognizing the Proletariat workers’ union and committing to productive engagement at the bargaining table.”
“We really care about each other and about the work that we do,” said Robbie Russell, a Senior Test Analyst II at Proletariat. “We want management to respect our ideas and our commitment to improving our company and our industry. A union gives us a seat at the table and will help us create the conditions that will allow us to build careers here and not hop from job to job hoping that things will be better at the next place. Nothing will get better unless we work together to make it better.”
The goals outlined in the Proletariat Workers Alliance/CWA Vision Statement (see below) include preserving progressive, human-first benefits such as a flexible PTO policy, remote work as a permanent option, and robust healthcare; open and transparent communication over compensation and pushing to pay workers a thriving wage; clear, equitable, and actionable processes and resources for workers to attain their career goals such as professional development, paths to promotions, and raises; no mandatory overtime, ensuring that refusal of overtime doesn’t affect performance evaluations, and better pay and health protections for voluntary overtime; a transparent process by which management and workers can hold each other accountable without fear of retaliation to seek justice for all workers, especially those who hold marginalized identities; creating a culture and policies that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in every level of decision making and support under-represented groups, in order to build the most diverse and equitable AAA game studio in the country.
“At Proletariat, we have always emphasized looking out for each other as people, and we're committed to preserving what is best about our studio. We are in this together,” said James Van Nuland, an Associate Game Producer at Proletariat.
“Our entire CWA family stands with the Proletariat workers as they show their dedication to each other and to improving standards for the entire video game industry by forming their union,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1. “It’s time for Activision Blizzard to abandon its playbook of delay and illegal interference and respect the Proletariat workers’ right to vote for union representation and bargain a contract.”
“A collective bargaining agreement will not only give Proletariat workers a voice on the job, it will safeguard the transparent, collaborative culture they have built which has enabled them to excel,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400 in New England. "Activision Blizzard should show respect for the workers at Proletariat by following the blueprint Microsoft has established at Zenimax and through the labor neutrality agreement they negotiated with CWA as part of their acquisition of Activision Blizzard. ”
Follow Proletariat Workers Alliance/CWA at @WeArePWA
Proletariat Workers Alliance/CWA Vision Statement
It is with great honor and pride that we, the workers of Proletariat Inc, are forming a union in affiliation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). We are game developers of varied skill sets and backgrounds, brought together through a shared commitment to our organization’s great mission. We aim to be a beloved game studio with a diverse team, doing our best work and creating innovative experiences at the frontier of game development.
We are unionizing to protect this mission and to set the studio up for success as we enter Proletariat’s next chapter joining forces with Activision Blizzard King. Proletariat’s values of transparency, respectful collaboration, and “understanding why” are important to all of us. Unionization is the culmination of these values. To have a say in building the exciting future ahead of us, we are forming a union so we can fight to ensure:
- Our progressive, human-first benefits such as; a flexible PTO policy, remote work as a permanent option, and robust healthcare.
- Open and transparent communication over compensation and pushing to pay workers a thriving wage.
- Clear, equitable, and actionable processes and resources for workers to attain their career goals such as; professional development, paths to promotions, and raises.
- Overtime is never mandatory, refusing doesn’t affect performance evaluations, and voluntary overtime has better pay and health protections.
- A transparent process by which management and workers can hold each other accountable without fear of retaliation to seek justice for all workers, especially those who hold marginalized identities.
- Our culture & policies prioritize DEI in every level of decision making & support under-represented groups, so we can build the most diverse and equitable AAA game studio in the country.
We ask that Proletariat and ABK leadership voluntarily recognize our union and bargain in good faith. We believe that leadership should follow in the steps of Microsoft and commit to a Labor Neutrality Agreement so that any and all workers throughout our company may unionize without fear of retaliation or interference.
Proletariat has always valued collaboration through mutual dignity, respect, and trust. We will embody these values while working with leadership, enabling us to do our best work and innovate what a game studio can be for its fans and employees. Leadership has continually improved our progressive policies, and us forming a union is critical to building a stronger Proletariat.