Activision Blizzard tells employees that joining a union is totally a bad idea

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In perhaps one of the least surprising news stories you’re going to see this year, Activision Blizzard King’s leadership has emailed employees advising them not to form a union.

The message from Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao cites the changes that Activision has made over the past few months, touting a zero-tolerance harassment policy that could not be applied to the company CEO, making 500 temporary workers full-time, and potential future changes. But there would be “consequences” should workers form a union, such as collective bargaining meaning that employees have to act together instead of alone, and Bulatao implores employees not to unionise until they’ve seen whether or not Activision will let them down again.

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These are plays straight from the union-busting playbook, with Activision dangling a carrot with also making thinly veiled threats against forming a union.

This comes shortly after advocacy group ABK Workers Alliance started organising a strike following layoffs hit contractors at Raven’s QA department at the start of the month, in the longest-running strike that has hit the company this year. The strike action has been going since last week with workers being supported by a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $300,000 to date.

Having previously led two walkouts earlier this year to protest workplace harassment and toxicity, and then to protest CEO Bobby Kotick’s continued position at the company, this latest strike is the closest to a traditional labour dispute. In addition to protesting, 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.

Here’s Bulatao’s full email to employees, via ABK Workers Alliance organiser and former senior test analyst Jessica Gonzalez:

Everyone,

At Activision Blizzard, we are working hard to create a more inclusive, supportive, and rewarding environment, and thanks to your input, we are making progress.

In the past few months, we’ve announced that we’re converting nearly 500 temporary workers to full-time employees at Activision Publishing studios, and we have increased wages for a large portion of temporary workers and added paid time off benefits. We introduced a zero-tolerance harassment policy and waived required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims. We have made significant commitments to increase gender diversity and are dedicating $250 million to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent across the industry. We have more to do, and we believe that direct dialogue between management and employees is essential to the success of Activision Blizzard.

As you may have seen yesterday, there was a communication supported by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that asked employees to sign and submit union authorization cards. I want to be clear about this: The leadership of Activision Blizzard supports your right, under the the [sic] National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), to make your own decision about whether or not to join a union.

As you make this decision for your future, we ask only that you take time to consider the consequences of your signature on the binding legal document presented to you by CWA. Once you sign that document, you will have signed over to CWA the exclusive right “to represent [you] for the purposes of collective bargaining concerning all terms and conditions of employment.” That means that your ability to negotiate all your own working conditions will be turned over to CWA, just as the document says.

Achieving our workplace culture aspirations will best occur through active, transparent dialogue between leaders and employees that we can act upon quickly. That is the better path than simply signing an electronic form offered to you by CWA or awaiting the outcome of a legally-mandated and -regulated bargaining process sometime in the future.

If we fail to achieve the workplace goals we have set forth—if we fail to do the things we’ve committed to doing—then of course you will still always have the right to engage with, and vote for, CWA. But we are confident that we will make the progress we’ve previously pledged to make and create a workplace with you that we all can be proud of.

As always, we welcome outreach with concerns or ideas to help make improvements, and there are multiple avenues internally for dialogue, both direct and anonymous.

Brian

Activision has had a year filled with damning stories and revelations most recently seeing NintendoMicrosoft 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.

Source: Jessica Gonzalez via Kotaku

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