Proletariat, a Boston-based firm bought by Blizzard in July 2022, is said to have abandoned ambitions to unionize. Not because the concerns that triggered the movement within the studio were rectified, as we’d expect from such stories, but because of the allegedly “confrontational techniques” used by the Proletariat CEO.
The Communication Workers of America announced in a statement initially published on GamesIndustry.biz that it was dropping its request for a unionization vote at Proletariat, which has been largely working on World of Warcraft. The union accused CEO Seth Sivak of treating employee concerns as a personal attack on his leadership, claiming that management had “demoralized and disempowered” staff to the point where a fair vote on the matter would be impossible. This comes after Activision Blizzard refused to recognize the union and insisted on holding any vote through the National Labor Relations Board, which would give them more control over the narrative.
On the one hand, this is wonderful news for Activision Blizzard, which has been working hard to keep its studios, like Raven Software and Blizzard Albany, from unionizing. Dropping the unionization issue allows Blizzard management to focus on getting Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of the publisher through the Federal Trade Commission’s newest litigation, but it also underscores to other studios why there may still be a need for unionization in the first place. At the time of writing, neither Proletariat nor Blizzard has issued a comment in response to the union’s decision.
Microsoft, for their part, has stated that they will follow any commitment made by studios to unionize before to the merger with Activision Blizzard. Recently, the firm voluntarily recognized the union created by ZeniMax employees, including Bethesda and id Software, giving optimism to other employees in the games industry wishing to see the labor movement develop. In its release, the CWA alluded to this decision, noting it as proof that there is “another road forward” in the search for open and fair conversation between employees and management.