Activision-Blizzard labor organizers score win for contractors as the Actiblizz lawsuits continue


Last week, following the brutal Activision-Blizzard investor call that saw the delay of multiple Blizzard titles and a stock plummet, the A Better ABK workers group inside Blizzard reported that some Activision-Blizzard contractors were essentially being furloughed, “forced to take mandatory unpaid leave during the holidays.” But apparently in the ensuing week, representatives for the contractors – that is, workers under temporary contracts rather than full-time employees with benefits – have scored multiple wins for those developers, including paid time off for those holidays and a boost in hourly rates.

As the Twitter thread notes, $17 per hour sounds high until you remember you can make more at Walmart and fast-food restaurants, without the crunch and in some cases with benefits, in SoCal. So clearly they have a long way to go.

Readers will recall that there have been multiple reports from Activision-Blizzard contractors like QA testers and customer service reps who have exposed the poisonous culture of shifting contract work that hampers careers, underpays, mandates crunch, and enables abuse, all in an environment where “higher-ups often emphasized to them that β€˜real’ developers are more important and that QA workers are easily replaceable” and full-time employment is used as a carrot.

But before you cheer for Activision-Blizzard, it’s probably worth noting the company’s latest legal filing, which along with the EEOC is attempting to convince the courts to throw out objections to the Activision-Blizzard/EEOC settlement from the California DFEH and Communication Workers of America, claiming that CWA doesn’t officially represent a majority of workers and that California has no standing to intervene. As Axios’ Stephen Totilo notes, the company is focused entirely on process rather than substance here.

Source: Twitter
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In the summer of 2021, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. As of fall 2021, multiple state and federal agencies are currently investigating the company.

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