Proletariat abandon union process after Activision Blizzard’s “demoralization” tactics

Proletariat abandon union process after Activision Blizzard’s “demoralization” tactics

Proletariat, an Activision Blizzard-owned studio working on World of Warcraft, has withdrawn its request to unite after “confrontational tactics” from both its parent company and current CEO.

As reported by, the Communication Workers of America came to the decision after realizing that Activision Blizzard was making it “impossible” to hold “fair and free elections.” According to a union representative, Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak was influenced by Activision Blizzard’s anti-union stance and began organizing rallies that “demoralized and disempowered the group.”

“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,” a union representative said. Like many founders, he took workers’ concerns as a personal attack and held a series of rallies that demoralized and disempowered the group, making free and fair elections impossible.

“As we have seen in Microsoft’s Zenimax studio, there is another way forward, one that empowers employees through a free and fair process, without employer harassment or manipulation. We will work with employees in the video game industry continue to advocate for better working conditions, higher standards and a union voice.”

Activision Blizzard acquired Proletariat last summer to help satisfy players’ “ravenous hunger” for new World of Warcraft content. Following the deal, CEO Bobby Kotick stated that the company had plans to hire “hundreds” more developers over the next two years to “serve the needs of WoW players”. In addition, the company’s intention was to fully integrate Proletariat with Activision Blizzard.

Shortly after the takeover, however, the Proletariat announced its decision to unite. Earlier this year, the studio made headlines after it was revealed that management refused to voluntarily recognize the union’s efforts. Leaders instead filed a union ballot through the National Labor Relations Board, which they felt was fairer because it would allow workers to get “all the information and different points of view”. The Proletariat Workers Alliance criticized this move, stating that the leadership’s actions were not “pro-worker” and instead “came straight out of the union-destroying playbook used by Activision and so many others.”

“We can decide for ourselves whether we want a union,” reads the statement of the Proletariat Workers Alliance. “We don’t need management help. We need and deserve respect and neutrality. We want to do our team good and work with management without a fight.”

The Proletariat Workers Alliance is not the first union Activision Blizzard has refused to recognize. Quality Assurers at both Raven Software and Blizzard Albany attempted to have their unions recognized by management, but received the same request to go through the National Labor Relations Board. Both unions subsequently held elections through the NLRB and ultimately won the right to join a union, despite their parent company’s claims that QA employees at each studio were ineligible to unionize.

While it’s uncertain what the Proletariat’s next move will be, it’s worth noting that, if Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard clears the legal hurdles, things will eventually become much easier for studios. within the company to unite. This is thanks to a labor neutrality agreement Microsoft signed last year, making unionization much easier for employees.

To update: Shortly after the publication of this story, a spokesperson for Blizzard reached out to make a statement regarding the Proletariat’s decision.

“We appreciate that the CWA has unilaterally decided to withdraw its petition in response to employee feedback,” the representative wrote. “As we said, we welcomed the opportunity for each employee to safely express their preferences through a confidential vote. Our team at Proletariat does an extraordinary job every day. They remain focused on continuing to make the Proletariat a place where everyone can grow, thrive, and be part of a great team and culture.”

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