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Activision Blizzard attempts last-minute delay on union vote count

"It's clear the company's executives feel threatened," union says.

Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard has filed a last-minute attempt to delay the counting of votes from some of its workers seeking to form a union.

Last month, Blizzard's Albany-based band of Diablo testers formally won the right to form a union following a months-long process. Ballots were subsequently sent out, with the result due to be announced on 18th November.

Now, Activision Blizzard has entered a motion to impound those ballots, GamesIndustry.biz reports. The company's top brass is currently appealing the Diablo testers' ability to unionise, and claims any announcement of the results would prejudice future results.

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In a nutshell, Activision Blizzard execs are arguing - as they have done for a while - that small teams within a game studio should not be able to qualify as a bargaining unit.

The company wants any unionisation talk to apply to entire studios as a whole - something which those critical of these efforts say will only slow down the potential union's decision-making process and dilute its focus, as it will have to cater to a larger group of workers.

"We deeply respect our employees' right to choose whether to be represented by a union and to make an informed decision for themselves in a process where every voice is heard," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said.

"Given the significant impact this decision could have for everyone on the Albany-based Diablo team and the tight integration of our operations there, we believe strongly that each of the 107 eligible employees deserves to have their votes counted, not just the 18 quality assurance testers who are important employees but make up a small fraction of the team. We are pursuing an appeal to the NLRB regarding its proposed bargaining unit, because companies as well as union organizers have the right to make their case."

Activision Blizzard unsuccessfully attempted to argue the same thing when the group of Call of Duty testers at Raven Software won their right to unionise earlier this year. This, then, is more of the same.

In a strongly-worded response, the Communications Workers of America union slammed Activision Blizzard's latest move as "frivolous", and a "sign the executives feel threatened".

"Sadly, it's no surprise that a company that has repeatedly tried to silence its employees, including by hiding reports of sexual violence, would want to muzzle workers' voices once again by trying to stop them from voting in a union election," the CWA said. "Workers have concluded that they need to protect themselves from this abusive employer by joining together into a strong union.

"Instead of staying neutral, Activision's management continues to present the same failing arguments in a desperate attempt to interfere with workers' legal right to make their own decisions about forming a union and negotiating a collective bargaining agreement."

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Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.