After years of publicly criticizing video game developer Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) for actively and negligently promoting a toxic work environment, employees have officially unionized. The move marks a major transition for the company, despite the fact that CEO Bobby Kotick remains at the helm amid numerous pleas for him to step down.
Employees at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software have unionized.
Employees at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard subsidiary, have finalized union formation. Raven Software works on one of Activision Blizzard’s most popular games, Call of Duty. On May 23, the group voted to form a union called the Game Workers Alliance (GWA).
The GWA is currently made up of 28 employees. Of those represented, 86 percent voted in favor of the union. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has represented the Raven Software union throughout the efforts.
“Activision Blizzard worked tirelessly to undermine our efforts to establish our union, but we persevered. Now that we’ve won our election, it's our duty to protect these foundational values on which our union stands,” the GWA stated. The GWA also said, “We look forward to working with management to positively shape our working conditions and the future of Activision Blizzard through a strong union contract.”
Will other Activision Blizzard employees follow suit and unionize?
Right now, unionization hasn't spread across the rest of Activision Blizzard’s workforce. However, that doesn’t mean those employees are satisfied. Since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company over a toxic workplace teeming with sexual harassment, unfair termination, executive negligence, and bias, employees have been making efforts to induce change.
In late 2021, hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout to pressure company leaders to address gender pay gaps, discrimination, and harassment. As of May 24, more than 35,500 people have signed a petition to remove Kotick from his post. The petition’s author, Kirby Sullivan, wrote, “Bobby Kotick has proved that he doesn't care about his employees and that he isn't fit to be the CEO of Activision Blizzard.”
It’s possible that more employees will attempt to unionize, but they may be letting Raven Software team members test the water. Oftentimes, large companies with freckled social histories have attempted union-busting efforts. The same may be the case with Activision Blizzard, which has called reports of its behavior inaccurate and distorted.
Months after Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for a staggering $69 billion sum, the FTC has yet to conclude its probe into the deal. It isn't clear whether unionization will impact their decision, and the ultimate fate of Activision Blizzard remains up in the air. ATVI stock is faring well in the meantime, but any major decisions could send the security swinging one way or the other.