Activision Blizzard Staff Walk Out Following Vaccine Mandate Removal
Even in advance of the walkout, Activision Blizzard reportedly reversed course to allow studios to make their own calls on vaccine mandates.
A number of workers at Activision Blizzard walked out again on Monday, this time due to the company's decision to roll back its vaccine requirement for in-office staff.
Activision Blizzard recently announced that staff would no longer have to prove that they had received a COVID-19 vaccine in an internal email sent by Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao. The email, which was leaked by employees at the company, cited the changes occurring in other businesses and indoor venues across the United States as a reason for the company to drop its vaccine requirement.
LEAKED: Brian Bulatao emailed all of ABK to talk returning to office in June. They will not be enforcing proof of vaccination. I’m sure the ‘benefits’ of in person collaboration is actually so employees organizing can be followed and monitored closely. Do not die for this company pic.twitter.com/MSOwWVYBR3— Jessica Gonzalez 💙 is a chair 🪑 (@_TechJess) March 31, 2022
"Over the past several weeks," reads the email, "we've seen businesses and other indoor venues across the U.S. lift vaccine requirements and we feel it is important to align our site protocols with local guidance." The email goes on to ask that employees "continue to confirm your vaccination status" in Workday, a piece of employee management software.
In response to the vaccine requirement's removal, the ABK Workers Alliance, a group of employees at Activision Blizzard King, announced that employees would walk out on April 4. The group also announced that it has three demands, including an immediate reinstatement of Activision Blizzard's vaccine requirement as well as options for employees to work remotely if they so choose.
Due to the new RTO policy around no longer mandating vaccination requirements in regards to the ongoing pandemic, a group of ABK employees will be conducting a walkout on Monday April 4 at 10am PDT. We have 3 demands:— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) April 1, 2022
The walkout was later changed to a digital one due to weather and illnesses. According to Axios, upwards of 80 people took part on Monday.
Even before the walkout took place, however, Activision Blizzard partially reversed course. In an internal email sent on Friday, Bulatao informed staff that individual Activision Publishing, King, and Blizzard studios would be able to make their own decisions regarding vaccine and testing mandates. Several have reportedly already chosen to do so, with Blizzard said to be among the studios that will keep its vaccine mandate in place for the time being.
Activision Blizzard said in a statement, "While Activision Blizzard's U.S. vaccine mandate has been lifted, for the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity." In advance of the walkout, it also stated it would not retaliate against those who take part. You can read the company's full statement from Friday below.
This isn't the first time the ABK Workers Alliance has put together a walkout at the massive company. This past November the group organized a similar walkout demanding Bobby Kotick's removal from his position as CEO. Kotick may eventually be removed from his position if Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved.
Activision Blizzard April 1 statement:
The health and safety of our employees is at the absolute forefront of everything we do, including our return to office policy. While Activision Blizzard’s U.S. vaccine mandate has been lifted, for the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity. In addition, employees who are not comfortable returning to the office are encouraged to work with their manager and our HR team to explore options for working arrangements that suit their individual situations. We will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments to the policy as needed.
We recognize some employees may be participating in a walkout to express their views. The company supports our employees’ right to express their opinions in a safe and nonthreatening way, and will not retaliate for any decision to participate in this walkout. The company also hopes that those who walk out will conduct themselves in a legal, safe, and nonviolent manner.
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