Activision Blizzard employees are launching a bid for unionisation, as fresh strike action and a new $1m fund to support workers has been announced.
Several staff members have spoken out publicly on social media to say they have now received and signed union cards. Meanwhile, the ABetterABK group of employees has confirmed a further strike will be held today.
“Today, the ABK Worker’s Alliance announces the initiation of its strike,” the group announced via Twitter this afternoon. “We encourage our peers in the game industry to stand with us in creating lasting change. For those who wish to join in solidarity, please consider donating to our Strike Fund.”
“Management told employees they will not be paid for the walkout after Wednesday,” Washington Post journalist Shannon Liao wrote on Twitter. “Workers still plan to strike today. The strike fund is supposed to create financial security for those who choose to join.”
A GoFundMe page for the ABK Strike Fund is now live, with around $15k raised so far.
Today’s first step towards unionisation – the handing out of union cards – is part of the process a workforce must go through to gain collective bargaining rights.
“Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to collectively bargain through a union if a majority of employees agree,” video games industry lawyer Richard Hoeg, host of the Virtual Legality podcast, told me.
“Most often this is done by a secret ballot vote (which folks may recall seeing most recently with Amazon), but in order to determine whether such a vote is necessary, the Act requires 30 percent of the employees that would be subject to the union to request it. We generally refer to those requests as ‘union cards’ or ‘union authorisation cards’, and it appears that potential union organisers within Activision have distributed those cards to sign (or not) as of today.”
“All I want for Christmas is an ABK union,” wrote Jessica Gonzalez, a key figure in recent employee action at Activision Blizzard who recently handed in her resignation.
We have contacted Activision and ABetterABK for more.
Last month, Activision was the focus of a damning Wall St Journal report which detailed alleged sexual harassment, assault and inappropriate behaviour at the developer behind Call of Duty. It followed a stream of reports of a similarly toxic culture at sister studio Blizzard.
Particular criticism was levelled towards Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, including claims of how much he knew, and suggestion he could have done more.
The report’s publication sent shockwaves through Activision Blizzard and around the games industry. Employees walked out and more than 1800 signed a petition demanding Kotick step down. But – for now – Kotick remains.