Skip to main content

Activision Blizzard confirms vaccine mandate is over, employees will walk out April 4th

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Activision Blizzard is officially lifting its vaccine mandate for US corporate employees, and workers have announced they plan to walk out in protest. The company confirmed to The Verge that it has already ended the mandate, and A Better ABK, an organization of Activision Blizzard employees advocating for better working conditions, announced Friday that employees will walk out of work on April 4th at 1PM ET in protest.

Jessica Gonzalez, a former Activision Blizzard employee and a founder of A Better ABK, originally revealed that the company was changing its vaccine policy on Twitter Thursday evening. In a series of screenshots, she shared the text of an email sent by Brian Bulatao, the company’s chief administrative officer. “Effective immediately, we are lifting our vaccine mandate for all US employees,” Bulatao says in the text shared by Gonzalez. Bulatao also discussed the company’s return-to-office policies, though acknowledged that they differed across the business. Bloomberg gaming journalist Jason Schreier reported on the email shortly after.

“As part of returning to office, Blizzard and Activision Blizzard held several feedback sessions and polls over the course of three months, at the end of which they decided to mandate the vaccine for workers coming into office,” a representative for ABK Workers Alliance said to Polygon. “This was the agreement under which people agreed to come back. This recent change was not run by any employees before being announced.”

On Friday, Bulatao sent another email to clarify the company’s policies — seemingly assuring employees that not all of them will need to return to work if they’re uncomfortable. “For the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity,” he said in the email, which was shared with The Verge. “Although we are not on a company-wide basis requiring vaccinations to enter our buildings 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 saying that Blizzard, specifically, will require vaccination for the next few months at least.

A Better ABK made three demands of the company on Friday, which I will quote below and which you can see in the embedded tweet that follows:

An immediate reversal to lifting the vaccine requirement

Remote work should be offered as a permanent solution

The decision to work remote or in office should be made by each individual employee

Following Activision Blizzard’s clarifications, the group retweeted a Blizzard employee but has so far not posted its own response.

It’s unclear how many workers are expected to walk out, and according to Polygon, “a representative for the group did not have an estimate number of participants.” Gonzalez didn’t reply to a Twitter DM, and the A Better ABK Twitter account didn’t reply to a tweet asking for clarification. Activision Blizzard didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Activision Blizzard employees have previously walked out in response to the scandals that have plagued the company as of late. In July, staffers walked out after the state of California’s sexual harassment sued the company, and more than 350 people were in attendance, according to The Washington Post. More than 150 attended a walkout following an explosive Wall Street Journal report alleging CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of sexual misconduct allegations at the company, according to Polygon. And another walkout took place following layoffs of a dozen QA staffers who worked at a studio involved with the hugely-successful Call of Duty series, with at least 200 walking out, according to The Washington Post.

Here’s Activision Blizzard’s full statement to The Verge, via spokesperson Kelvin Liu:

The health and safety of our employees is at the absolute forefront of everything we do, including our return to office policy. While Activision Blizzard’s U.S. vaccine mandate has been lifted, for the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity. In addition, employees who are not comfortable returning to the office are encouraged to work with their manager and our HR team to explore options for working arrangements that suit their individual situations. We will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments to the policy as needed.

We recognize some employees may be participating in a walkout to express their views. The company supports our employees’ right to express their opinions in a safe and nonthreatening way, and will not retaliate for any decision to participate in this walkout. The company also hopes that those who walk out will conduct themselves in a legal, safe, and nonviolent manner.

And here’s the text of Brian Bulatao’s latest email:

From: Brian Bulatao

Subject: Vaccine Policy Update

Date: April 1, 2022

Everyone,

Yesterday, I shared an update that we are lifting our corporate vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees. As a result of questions that have emerged since, I want to clarify what this means in terms of decision making throughout 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 highest priority. Our decisions have been founded in implementing standards that meet or exceed local guidance in the communities where we live and work. And, for the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity. We will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments to the policy as needed.

Although we are not on a company-wide basis requiring vaccinations to enter our buildings 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.

Thank you for your feedback. We will continue to clarify our plans as we get closer to our full return date.

Brian



Source: The Verge

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Which should you buy?

http://bit.ly/2v1agl5 We live and breathe tech, and also gaming, with every member of Windows Central rocking either an Xbox One console or PC gaming rig. We've compared and contrasted every iteration of Xbox One to bring you this guide. Xbox One X Raw 4K power From $299 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps, Blu-ray discs, and games IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls Improved HDD speeds for faster loading times Cons More expensive at around $500 RRP Requires a 4K TV to get the most out of it The Xbox One X is the world's most powerful games console, running the latest games with the crispest, detailed visuals on TV sets with 4K HDR support. Xbox One S More affordable From $226 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps and Blu-ray IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls More affordable at around $300 RRP Cons No 4K games Games run worse, even on a 1080p TV The Xbox One S i