Activision Blizzard is officially lifting its vaccine mandate for US corporate employees, and employees have announced they plan to walk away in protest. The company confirmed that The edge that it has already terminated its mandate, and A Better ABK, an organization of Activision Blizzard employees advocating for better working conditions, announced Friday that workers will go to work on April 4 at 1 p.m. ET in protest.
Jessica Gonzalez, a former Activision Blizzard employee and founder of A Better ABK, originally revealed that the company was changing its vaccine policy on Twitter Thursday night† In a series of screenshots, she shared the text of an email sent by Brian Bulatao, the company’s chief administrator. “Effective immediately, we are canceling our vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers,” Bulatao said in the text shared by Gonzalez. Bulatao also discussed the company’s return policy, although he acknowledged that this varied within the company. Bloomberg gaming journalist Jason Schreier reported on the email shortly after†
LEAK: Brian Bulatao has emailed all of ABK to talk about his return to office in June. They will not enforce a vaccination certificate. I am sure that the ‘benefits’ of personal collaboration are precisely that the organization of employees can be closely monitored and controlled. Don’t die for this company pic.twitter.com/MSOwWVYBR3
— Jessica Gonzalez’s chair (@_TechJess) March 31, 2022
“As part of the return to office, Blizzard and Activision Blizzard conducted several feedback sessions and polls over the course of three months, at the end of which they decided to make the vaccine mandatory for employees taking office,” an ABK Workers representative alliance said to polygon† “This was the deal where people agreed to come back. This recent change was not implemented by any employee until it was announced.”
On Friday, Bulatao sent another email clarifying the company’s policies — seemingly assuring employees that they won’t all have to go back to work if they’re uncomfortable. “For the majority of our employees, we still work with a voluntary return to office,” he said in the email, which was shared with The edge† “While we do not require company-wide vaccinations to enter our facilities in the US, it is still up to the leaders of Activision Publishing, Blizzard and King to determine the processes and policies that work best for their employees and locations. based on local conditions and risk.”
Schreier also reported that Blizzard chief Mike Ybarra sent an email Friday stating that Blizzard, in particular, needs vaccinations in the coming months.
At the same time, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra emailed staff that they will need vaccinations in the coming months and that about 80% of their employees in Irvine, Austin and Albany have uploaded a vaccination certificate.
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) Apr 1, 2022
Made a better ABK three requirements of the company: on Friday, which I quote below and which you can see in the embedded tweet that follows:
An Immediate U-turn in Lifting the Vaccine Residency
Remote working should be offered as a permanent solution
The decision to work remotely or in the office should be made by each individual employee
1. An Immediate U-turn in the Lifting of Vaccines
2. Remote working should be offered as a permanent solution
3. The decision to work remotely or in the office should be made by each individual employee
— ABetterABK ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) Apr 1, 2022
Following Activision Blizzard’s clarifications, the group retweeted a Blizzard employee but hasn’t posted any comments yet.
Breaking: Brian Bulatao has admitted that each studio gets to choose its own vaccine mandate requirements. So far I have heard that Blizzard, QAMN, QALA and QATX have reinstated a vaccine mandate. I hope to hear that all my ABK colleagues are protected in the same way.
— Valentine Powell ️ ️⚧️ (@valentine_irl) Apr 1, 2022
It is unclear how many workers are expected to leave, and according to polygon, “one representative of the group had no estimated number of participants.” Gonzalez did not respond to a Twitter DM and the A Better ABK Twitter account did not respond to a tweet requesting clarification. Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Activision Blizzard employees have previously left in response to the scandals plaguing the company of late. In July, staffers walked out after the state of California’s sexual harassment charges against the company, and more than 350 people attended. according to The Washington Post† More than 150 people attended a strike after an explosive device Wall Street Journal report alleging that CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct at the company, according to polygon† And another strike took place after firing a dozen QA employees who worked at a studio involved in the hugely successful Duty series, with at least 200 running out, according to The Washington Post†
Here’s Activision Blizzard’s full statement to The edgevia spokesperson Kelvin Liu:
The health and safety of our employees is paramount in everything we do, including our return policy. Although Activision Blizzard’s US vaccine mandate has been lifted, we still operate on a voluntary return to office basis for the majority of our employees. In addition, employees who do not feel comfortable returning to the office are encouraged to work with their manager and our HR team to explore options for work arrangements that suit their individual situation. We will continue to monitor the circumstances and adjust the policy if necessary.
We recognize that some employees may join a strike to express their views. The company supports the right of our employees to express their views in a safe and non-threatening manner, and will not retaliate for any decision to participate in this strike. The company also hopes that those who run away will behave in a legal, safe and nonviolent manner.
And here’s the text from Brian Bulatao’s last email:
From: Brian Bulatao
Subject: Update vaccine policy
Date: April 1, 2022
Yesterday I shared an update that we are lifting our corporate vaccination mandate for all US employees. In response to questions that have arisen since then, I want to clarify what this means for decision making across our organization about what is best for a particular business unit or location.
First, from the beginning of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of employees our top priority. Our decisions are based on implementing standards that meet or exceed local guidelines in the communities where we live and work. And for the majority of our employees, we still work with a voluntary return to the office. We will continue to monitor the circumstances and adjust the policy if necessary.
While we do not require company-wide vaccinations to enter our U.S. facilities, it is still up to the leaders of Activision Publishing, Blizzard and King to determine the processes and policies that work best for their employees and locations. based on local circumstances and risks.
Thanks for your feedback. We will continue to clarify our plans as we get closer to our full return date.