03 Aug 2021 5:54 PM +00:00

Activision Blizzard Employees Form the ABK Workers Alliance

Activision Blizzard employees have formed the ABK Workers Alliance, an informal organization of staff pushing back against what they call the company's inefficient and unacceptable response to recent allegations of workplace abuse.

The news comes just hours after the company announced former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack would step down from his position.

The ABK Workers Alliance issued a letter, shared with IGN, to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and other leadership figures discussing their dissatisfaction with company executives and reasons for forming the alliance.

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The Alliance also accuses Activision Blizzard of taking steps to curtail workers' "freedom of association," saying the company restricted access to listening sessions and reduced the size of these sessions in the past week.

Chief among the letter's complaints is Activision Blizzard executives failing to address any of the demands outlined in the open letter more than 3,000 employees sent last week, particularly the third one: onboarding a third party to review company diversity practices.

Activision Blizzard Employees Form the ABK Workers Alliance

While Activision Blizzard did bring a third party on board to handle this review, the firm it chose is WilmerHale, popularly known as a "union-busting" law firm.

The letter, reprinted by IGN, describes the ABK Workers Alliances protest against WilmerHale in detail:

WilmerHale’s pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives create an unacceptable conflict of interest. [emphasis in the original]
Activision Blizzard has already been a client of WilmerHale, who you used to dispute the Diverse Candidate Search Policy proposed by the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund and UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust [1] earlier in 2021.
Frances Townsend is known to have relationships with multiple partners at WilmerHale, including former FBI Director Robert Mueller [2].
WilmerHale has a history of discouraging workers’ rights and collective action.
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WilmerHale states on their public website that their services include “advising on union awareness and avoidance” [3].

The ABK Workers Alliance strongly objected to Stephanie Avakian heading WilmerHale's investigation into allegations against Activision Blizzard. They said:

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 [9]. We need legal representation that centers on the concerns of our current employees, rather than investors.

The letter said the Workers Alliance will take steps of its own to make changes in the company, including:

Worker-to-Worker Mentorship: We are building a mentorship program where workers can seek career advice, support, and sponsorship from a network of colleagues in a safe external channel outside company communication networks.
Open Listening Sessions: We will host listening sessions that will be recorded and disseminated across the organization to facilitate ongoing conversation, education, and emotional support for employees.
Community Meetings: We will facilitate monthly employee meetings, in a secure external channel, to discuss our concerns, desires, and progress toward achieving our goals. All current ABK employees are welcome to participate in these conversations.

[Source: IGN]