In context: Months ago, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging widespread institutional sexism, inequality, and even harassment, particularly toward female employees from their male supervisors. After the suit went public, a cluster of disgruntled employees formed the ABK Worker's Alliance. This group seeks to hold its employer accountable through public demands and protests.
Now, the organization is taking the next step. Instead of merely expressing their discontent through Twitter posts and in-person protests, the ABK Workers Alliance is officially walking out and going on strike; but not just because of the harassment allegations. This demonstration was prompted by more recent events, in which roughly 1/3 of Activision Blizzard's Raven Quality Assurance team were given termination letters without warning. These lay-offs are set to take effect in late January, giving workers just a couple of months to find a new source of employment.
Previously, this team was reportedly encouraged to relocate to a new office location at their own expense, with the promise of "future raises and better conditions." Unfortunately, it seems those promises never materialized for Raven QA.
Today, the ABK Worker's Alliance announces the initiation of its strike. We encourage our peers in the Game Industry to stand with us in creating lasting change. For those who wish to join in solidarity, please consider donating to our Strike Fund.https://t.co/IauGyxuLYG— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) December 9, 2021
As such, the ABK Worker's Alliance refuses to end its strike until the fired Raven QA workers are reinstated and all team members are hired as full-time employees instead of temporary contractors. For reference, it is common practice for game developers and publishers to hire contractors to fill out their QA departments. These workers are typically cheaper and easier to dismiss than full-time employees, who often have extra rights, benefits, and protections depending on their state or region of employment.
Not all game companies participate in these regular firing sprees -- Nintendo executives are notorious for taking pay cuts to avoid lay offs -- but many do.
To support their members during this strike, the ABK Workers Alliance has started a GoFundMe campaign with a $1,000,000 goal. As of writing, the "ABK Strike Fund" page has received $214,444 in donations, and it only opened yesterday.
You can learn more about how the GoFundMe cash will be distributed on the actual Strike Fund page but, in short, strike organizers are aiming to "assist with wages" and help fired Raven QA members relocate if necessary.
In addition to the requests laid out above, the ABK Worker's Alliance is still holding firm to its original four demands, which were announced when the group first formed. The group wants:
- ...an end to forced arbitration in employment agreements.
- ...the adoption of inclusive recruitment and hiring practices.
- ...increases in pay transparency through compensation metrics.
- ...an audit of ABK policies and practices to be performed by a neutral third-party.
We'll let you know if anything comes of this strike, but ultimately, we hope participants can keep themselves and their families afloat during these difficult times.