Last month, the staff at Charm Proletariat Studio It became the third group within Activision Blizzard to form a syndicate. Today, though, the Communications Workers of America is backing away from efforts to elect the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that could have forced parent company Activision Blizzard to recognize that union. In doing so, the CWA cites actions by Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak that made “free and fair elections impossible”.
In a statement provided to Ars Technica, a CWA spokesperson said that Sivak “has chosen to follow Activision Blizzard’s example and has responded to workers’ desire to unionize with confrontational tactics.” These tactics include “a series of meetings that demoralized and weakened the group’s morale,” according to the CWA.
Proletariat software engineer Dustin Yost said in an accompanying statement that these management meetings “took their toll” on the group through Fram.[ing] Conversation as a personal betrayal, instead [of] Respect our right to join together to protect ourselves and have a seat at the table…”
The Proletariat organization said last month that the “vast majority” of workers in the studio had signed cards in support of the union. But Activision Blizzard refused to voluntarily recognize the union, which led to the CWA Lobbying for NLRB Elections To force the issue in the weeks leading up to the shift day.
Under NLRB RulesIt is illegal for an employer to “interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees” who attempt to unionize. But despite talk of management “confrontational tactics” here, the CWA has not declared that it has filed any unfair business practice complaints with the NLRB about this type of abuse.
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Last May, Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software’s quality assurance testers He won a similar NLRB election To become the first fully recognized association in the American gaming industry. In December, Blizzard Albany QA workers won their NLRB election to achieve recognition.
Unlike those studios, Proletariat was pushing for a union that would represent all non-management employees, not just those in the QA department. This apparently led to Internal discord reports On the speed and breadth of studio unionization efforts in Boston.
In response to a request for comment, Activision Blizzard’s Vice President of Media Relations Joe Christinat said the company “welcomed the opportunity for each employee to express their preferences securely through a secret vote. Our team at Proletariat does an exceptional job every day. They remain focused on working with their teams to continue to make Proletariat A place where everyone can grow, thrive and be part of an amazing team and culture.”
[Update (Jan. 25): Speaking to Ars Technica, Chritinat said that allegations of “confrontational tactics” from Sivak are “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 said. “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 in public statements.”]
In a statement distributed to the press earlier this month, a Blizzard spokesperson said that “some employees said they felt pressured to sign union cards, and were not adequately informed about what they were signing and what it meant when they signed… We want to ensure that all of them can sign.” Employees can make their voices heard, it’s their decision.”
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