The ABK Workers Alliance has announced that they will be going on strike, started a funding drive to support employees that choose to join them, and made their first meaningful efforts to create a union at Activision Blizzard.
In the announcement on Twitter, the group wrote:
Today, the ABK Worker’s Alliance announces the initiation of its strike. 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.
The ABK Strike Fund has also launched on GoFundMe with a target of $1 million to support those choosing to strike and go without pay for its duration.
The need for a fund is vital at this point because, while ABK Worker’s Alliance has become a front for Activision Blizzard employees to rally behind and outlet for them to share their demands of the publisher’s management, they are not a union and do not have the security that this can offer.
That situation might not last long. The workers alliance has also started to hand out union cards for employees to sign. If they are able to get 30% of the workforce to sign, this will force a company-wide vote that could establish a fully fledged union. Obviously Activision would really, really, really rather that they didn’t unionise.
The latest catalyst for employee unrest at Activision has been the termination of a number of contractors within the QA team at Raven Software. At the end of last week, 12 QA staff were told one-by-one that they would no longer have a job come the end of January 2022, despite being in good standing as employees and previous assurances of continued work that had, in some cases, seen them relocate to different parts of the country.
Activision Blizzard confirmed on Monday that 20 temporary contracts were ending, but also that they would be making roughly 500 other contractors full-time employees over the coming months. The displeasure really comes from the manner of dismissal, the context with the huge profits that Activision is able to generate from Warzone and the vast sums that executives are typically paid, and simply the timing as Raven Software wraps on the latest major season and overhaul of Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s part of the typical boom and bust of employment that is seen through vidoe game development, often leaving developers with a lack of stability.
Activision has had a year filled with damning stories and revelations most recently seeing Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony criticising the company for their mishandling of ongoing harassment lawsuits. Having been bombarded with lawsuits and investigations over the summer, the Wall Street Journal recently published a story detailing Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s prior knowledge of sexual harassment cases within his company and having a hand in harbouring those accused, drawing responses from company heads at the three console publishers. We’re yet to see any more serious ramifications.