Management refuses to acknowledge Proletariat union

Management refuses to acknowledge Proletariat union

The leadership team at Activision Blizzard studio Proletariat is refusing to acknowledge an employee union at the studio voluntarily.

That's according to a blog post from management, in which it had filed its position with the National Labor Relations Board asking that an anonymous voting process take place. Proletariat leadership believes this is the fairest way of doing things.

"Besides being the fairest option, this also allows employees to get all the information and various points of view. This is an important decision, everyone deserves some time to process it and to better understand its potential impacts," the studio wrote.

"The Proletariat leadership is and has always been pro-worker. In fact, the Proletariat name was inspired by the founders' dissatisfaction as workers in the industry. They wanted everyone to share in the success and ownership of the studio, and to be treated fairly. That included everyone from the most senior to first-time developers, regardless of if they were a manager or an individual contributor, across the full range of disciplines that made up the company. For the past 10 years, we've worked hard to build a great place to work, and we're often told by employees who leave, stay, or return, that this is the best place they've ever worked."

In response to this, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union – with which Proletariat is organising – has said that management at both the studio and Activision Blizzard have refused to enter into discussions, resulting in the NLRB process.

"Our Proletariat leadership and upper management at Activision have refused our requests to talk about neutrality and are forcing us through an NLRB election, even though a supermajority of our bargaining unit have signed union cards, and that is not pro-worker," staff said.

"Their actions this week have been right out of the union-busting playbook used by Activision and so many others."

Proletariat would be the third Activision Blizzard studio to unionise following Raven Software and Blizzard Albany. Microsoft, which is in the process of acquiring the Call of Duty giant, has entered into a neutrality agreement with the CWA resulting in workers at ZeniMax being able to unionise without the NLRB's involvement.

Update (12/1): Following the publication of this story, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson reached out with the following statement: 

"Shortly after the CWA filed a petition for union election at Proletariat, some employees said they felt pressured to sign union cards, were inadequately informed about what they were signing and what it meant when they signed. Given this fact, we strongly believe an anonymous vote is the fairest option. Many employees have requested it, as it gives them the chance to collect facts and insights about such an important decision without any external pressure. We want to ensure that all employees can make their voices heard, as this is their decision." 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.