Employees across multiple studios under the Activision-Blizzard-King group have called out their company in a letter on Tuesday as the newly formed ABK Workers Alliance.
This coalition of workers, which includes workers from Activision, Beenox, Blizzard Entertainment, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software and Vicarious Visions, highlighted the lack of a response to the demands they made during last week’s walkout. Additionally, they condemned leadership’s decision to hire the WilmerHale law firm to review the company’s policies.
This situation originated with a lawsuit against the company from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing which cited sexual harassment, a “frat bro” culture and unequal opportunities, among other things. CEO Bobby Kotick sent a letter of his own promising change at the company last week, but walkout organizers released a response that spoke to the insufficiency of his statement. Now one week later, the ABK Workers Alliance signaled they are still unsatisfied.
Activision Blizzard walkout organizers just released a statement in response to CEO Bobby Kotick's email to staff in which he described the company's response as "tone deaf" pic.twitter.com/64D7w8PhOL
— Megan Farokhmanesh (@Megan_Nicolett) July 28, 2021
“The solutions you proposed … did not meaningfully address our requests,” the letter read. “You ignored our call for an end to mandatory arbitration. You did not commit to adopting inclusive recruitment and hiring practices. You made no comment on pay transparency.”
The Alliance’s letter then referenced the conflicts of interest between Activision Blizzard and WilmerHale, which include previous relationships with both the company and many of its leaders. As a consequence of this, the letter states the law firm cannot conduct an impartial, third party review of company policy. They also listed many examples, including WilmerHale’s role in disputing the Diverse Candidate Search Policy proposed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Reserve Fund and United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, two of the largest federations of unions in the U.S. The ABK Workers Alliance also specifically singled out the work of Stephanie Avakian, the WilmerHale partner whom Kotick said would lead the policy review.
“In Stephanie’s speech highlighting her successes with the SEC, all of her significant examples included achievements in favor of investors, retail clients and customers, but does not once mention employees or laborers” the letter stated. “We need legal representation that centers on the concerns of our current employees, rather than investors.”
The letter concluded by providing examples of ways in which the employees have already begun to rebuild their culture and level the playing field from the ground up, citing “community meetings” and “listening sessions,” as well as “worker-to-worker mentorship,” signing off with a call to action.
“We are doing what we can,” the letter read, “and we call on you to do what we cannot.”