Activision Blizzard executive Brian Bulatao sent an email to staff just a day after reports starting coming out that unionization efforts had started at the company, stressing that the game publisher can fix its workplace culture without the need to unionize. However, the former Trump Administration official, cautioned employees to 'consider the consequences' of signing up with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The email comes amid the ongoing work stoppage at Raven Software, one of the developers that has worked on titles across the publisher's biggest franchises, including most recently Call of Duty: Warzone. The Activision Blizzard studio has seen its workers walk out in protest of last week's news of layoffs hitting the QA department, especially after the publisher asked employees to relocate at their own expense.
Yesterday the ABK Worker's Alliance announced that some of Activision Blizzard's employees have initiated a strike, as well as setting up a fund to help those who have walked out in protest of the recent moves at the company. This accompanies a unionization effort with the CWA.
In respose, an email was sent to staff by Activision Blizzard excecutive Brian Bulatao stressing that employees should "consider the consequences of your signature on the binding legal document" with the CWA.
It should be stressed that Bulatao clearly states that Activision Blizzard, under the National Labor Relations Act, "supports your right [...] 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 binging legal document presented to you by CWA," Bulatao writes in the email, released on Twitter by Activision Blizzard employee Jessica Gonzalez, who publicly announced her resignation due to the ongoing allegations made against the company.
The email continues:
"Once you sign that document, you will have signed over to the 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."
Bulatao continues, stressing that internal change is preferable versus signing with the CWA at the moment, stating that Activision Blizzard is confident it will "make the progress [Activision Blizzard] previously pledged to make and create a workplace with you that we can all be proud of." However, Bulatao concedes that if management doesn't make good on this, the CWA option will still be there.
The response to the email sent by Bulatao has been met with intense criticism, specifically being called out as "union busting" on the part of the company. The same accusation was also made after a letter from Blizzard's HR Chief, Julie Hodges was sent to managers offering "training" on how to talk to employees who may be asking about unionization.
In a week that has seen walkouts at Raven and across other studios, as well as the initiation of unionization efforts, according to the Washington Post Activision Blizzard has told staff that the walkouts on Monday through Wednesday would be paid, though future work stoppages wouldn't.
The ABK Worker's Alliance has started a GoFundMe page aimed at helping employees who are putting their jobs and incomes on the line through this work stoppage, and as of this writing has raised over $235K towards a 1 million dollar goal. The worker's group also clarified on Twitter last night exactly what the strike is directed towards and what the demands are of those striking. Specifically, striking workers are demaning of ABK and Raven that the employees who are set to be terminated are reinstated, as well as the hiring of Raven QA staff as full time employees.
Thanks to feedback from some of our members, the ABK Worker's Alliance would like to clarify the scope and demands of the ongoing strike occurring at Activision Blizzard. ??— ABetterABK ?? ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 10, 2021
We support Raven QA employees and their efforts. As such, our strike demands that ABK and Raven:• Reinstate these unjustly terminated employees.• Hire all members of Raven QA, who frequently are kept on contract for years on end, as Full Time Employees.— ABetterABK ?? ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 10, 2021
All of this stems from reports throughout the year in response to federal and state lawsuits being levied at Activision Blizzard, alleging sexual discrimination and unlawful labor practices. In the months since, multiple high level employees across the publisher have been let go, and calls for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign have intensified, especially after a bombshell report by the Wall Street Journal which alleges that Kotick knew about the allegations. Since the report, the ABK's board has stood behind Kotick, setting up a new Workplace Responsibility Committee to monitor the efforts being made by Activision Blizzard to improve its workplace culture.