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Activision Healthcare Policies Prompt Planned Employee Walk-Out

July 6, 2022

By: Samantha Plaisance

 
 

Activision Blizzard has been under fire for quite some time due to their lack of care towards its employees. This has sparked a well-needed uprising within the company, and an employee-led Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination has officially scheduled a walkout on July 21, 2022. The original tweet about said walkout can be found here, written by the ABK Workers Alliance, where they stated,

"In light of the recent attacks on the civil liberties of our employees, the employee-led Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination has scheduled a walk out action on July 21st, 2022."

This walkout has been set as a result of the direct attacks on the employee's civil liberties concerning the Roe v. Wade law being overturned. Employees of Activision directly claim that the healthcare protection they receive no longer protects these fundamental civil liberties. The employees have made several demands, such as a complete change of policies, ending mandatory arbitration, an expansion of maternity leave, and an end to the retaliation and harassment within the workplace. 

 

While these demands are more recent, several things have happened within Activision Blizzard prior to this walkout. There are years worth of accusations against the company, mostly in regards to sexual harassment and abuse. Earlier in the year, they settled one of the lawsuits against them regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination, but are still under fire by the state of California. The lawsuit states that Activision Blizzard hosts one of the most toxic work environments to date, which there is an ongoing dispute over. 

The ABK Workforce Alliance states that the $4,000 currently offered by the company for out-of-state medical care leaves employees open and vulnerable to legal prosecution within their home states. The travel reimbursements now provided also do not remove Activisions employees from danger. The Alliance's primary goal is to ensure that the company's employees can safely and, more importantly, affordably maintain access to procedures that could be life-saving. This includes abortion procedures as well as trans-affirming healthcare.

 
 

"We are calling for protection of several communities of marginalized workers. Employees are actively facing state legislation that is putting women, LGBTQ+ employees, and their families at risk, with other vulnerable groups on the horizon. Our walk-out demands focus on the protections of ABK employees from external threats like the recent overturn of Roe V. Wade, and internal threats such as retaliation and harassment while in the workplace" - ABetterABK  Workers Alliance

While the ABK Workers Alliance attempted to reach out to Activision leadership directly, the company decided to respond to the media outlet's questions first rather than responding to its employee's demands. The Alliance mentioned that the company had entirely dismissed their attempts at reconciliation in the past, and they believe it is time to take action. 

A detailed list of the demands that the ABK Workforce Alliance submitted to Activision leadership can be found here. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson responded to this article, stating,

 
 

"Our employees made these requests two months ago and at that time, the company had already adopted many of the policy changes they sought. We have, for example, waived arbitration of individual sexual harassment and discrimination claims (last October), hired new DEI and EEO leaders, and collaborated with employees to make our policies and processes more Trans inclusive, just to name a few issues they have raised."

The company claims that several of the Alliances demands have been met, but the employees disagree with those statements. The ABK Workforce says, "While specific types of forced arbitration have been waived, our original demand was for the end of all forced arbitration agreements."

You might think the problem would be temporary with the proposed Microsoft purchase of Activision Blizzard, but it may continue to be a problem even if that deal goes through. ZeniMax, whom Microsoft previously purchased, isn't providing the same coverage to their employees as other Microsoft employees as they handle benefits separately. This means that Microsoft's promise to cover expenses for employees getting out-of-state medical help doesn't apply to ZeniMax employees like those at Bethesda. Assuming a similar set up for Activision, then how this resolves may determine the situation going forward.

Those who would like to support the ABK Workforce Alliance in their efforts can do so by sharing their tweets and information on social media to raise awareness and donating to the ABK Strike Fund.

Activision Blizzard has been heavily criticized over allegations of toxic workplace culture and sexual harassment. These criticisms have come from several U.S. state treasurers, the heads of both PlayStation and Xbox, and a group of activist shareholders, among many others. The company is also embroiled in lawsuits, unionization disputes with staff, and conflicts with government agencies.