A group of Activision Blizzard employees created the ABK Workers’ Alliance this summer in July, following a lawsuit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) that investigated the company’s “frat boy workplace culture.” The findings were damning and explored just how deep the toxic culture had permeated from the top down. Aside from pay disparities, sexual harassment without consequences seemed to be a theme for one of the biggest video game holding companies in the world.
Activision’s response was lackluster to say the least (they went as far as to hire a union-busting law firm to “review corporate policy”) so workers have been tasked with taking action into their own hands, staging walkouts and in some cases, resigning.
Now the ABK Workers’ Alliance announced a strike fund to “contribute to offsetting wages lost from work stoppage, as well as to assist in the potential relocation of Raven Software workers who were forced to move without financial assistance at the insistence of Activision Blizzard.”
The longest yard— Employees at Activision Blizzard are technically not unionized, meaning that whatever action they take in the wake of the company’s skeletons being unearthed, could have direct consequences on their employment. The GoFundMe was put together by Jessica Gonzalez, a former senior engineer at Activision, who recently left the company and as of time of publication, has raised around $150,000.
In the fundraiser’s description it takes direct aim at CEO Bobby Kotick and the board of directors at Activision who, according to workers, continues to “protect abusers and only hold perpetrators accountable after the events were brought to light by outside media.”
Aside from the litany of sexual abuse within the company, Activision has also been dealing with employee walk-offs stemming from a round of layoffs at Raven Software, the studio behind Call of Duty: Warzone. The layoffs come as a surprise, as the QA contractors were told that positive departmental changes were coming. Instead, 20 workers were terminated after giving up countless hours to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the battle royale game.
Shannon Liao, of the Washington Post, reported that the ABK Workers’ Alliance, on top of the strike fund, was calling on employees to sign union authorization cards. A striking worker spoke to Polygon and outlined the grim reality of the situation: “We are all disposable to this company ... we need to band together or we will never get anywhere.”
Whether or not a union can form out of the ashes of Activision’s public perception, remains to be seen, but it would be one small step towards some kind of accountability, even if it would be the result of employees rather than management.