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Proletariat leadership won't voluntarily recognize PWA union

Studio bosses are now seeking a full union election through the NLRB.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 10, 2023

2 Min Read
The Proletariat logo

The leadership team at Spellbreak developer Proletariat won't voluntarily recognize unionizing workers and has requested a full union election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In an update posted on the Proletariat website, studio bosses said that some employees have pushed for an anonymous vote and described the move as the "fairest option."

Proletariat staff formed the Proletariat Workers Alliance (PWA) with help from Communication Workers of America (CWA) in December last year, and called on management to voluntarily recognize the union.

The move came six months after the studio was acquired by Blizzard Entertainment, with that news coming one day after the developer announced it would be shutting down Spellbreak in 2023.

PWA includes employees from a number of disciplines such as QA, animation, design, and engineering, and according to members was formed (partly) in response to the studio being acquired by Activision Blizzard.

"We are unionizing [...] to set the studio up for success as we enter Proletariat's next chapter joining forces with Activision Blizzard King," reads a vision statement posted by PWA in December. "We aim to be a beloved game studio with a diverse team, doing our best work and creating innovative experiences at the frontier of development."

Studio leaders, however, claim their top priority is to "keep our employees informed and educated," and as such won't ratify the union without an NLRB vote.

"Besides [a vote] 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," reads a statement.

"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."

The latest push for unionization comes after QA workers at Activision Blizzard subsidiaries Raven Software and Blizzard Albany successfully organized. Activision Blizzard, however, was accused by Raven workers of attempting to thwart their efforts, while the company also reportedly sought to derail the Blizzard Albany vote during an NLRB hearing.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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