Activision Blizzard employees announce formal strike, launch fundraiser to support work stoppage

The ABK Workers Alliance, an organization of Activision Blizzard employees formed in the wake of a lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, has launched a fundraising campaign to support workers taking part in the work stoppage that began on Monday. The Gofundme campaign is seeking $1 million to help cover lost wages, as well as to assist with the relocation expenses of Raven Software workers who were let go last week.

The work stoppage began when members of Raven Software’s QA team walked off the job to protest the decision to lay off QA workers at the studio. Employees at other studios joined the action on Tuesday, including the entire central AQ team at Call of Duty studio Treyarch. According to a Washington Post report, Activision Blizzard management told employees taking part in the walkout that they would be paid for Monday through Wednesday but not beyond, so if they wish to continue striking they will have to either use paid time off or go unpaid.

Previous Activision Blizzard work stoppages in July and November were single-day affairs, but there’s no indication as to when this one will end. The Gofundme page indicates that it’s open-ended, saying that employees intended to keep up the walkout “until demands are met and worker representation is finally given a place within the company.”

Those demands, first issued in July, include:

  • An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution. 
  • The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.  
  • Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.  
  • Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.        

The Washington Post report also indicates that Activision Blizzard may be moving closer to unionization, as employees are reportedly being asked to sign union authorization cards which could lead to a company-wide vote on unionization. 

The ABK Workers Alliance collaborated with the Communication Workers of America, a national union representing roughly 700,000 workers in the public and private sectors, in a September complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, and are also reportedly working with it on this union drive.

It’s not clear yet whether the strike announced today is aimed at bringing about wider action at Activision Blizzard, or simply formalizes the work stoppage that’s already underway. I’ve reached out to the ABK Workers Alliance for more information and will update if I receive a reply.

Source: PC Gamer

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