Read the Discrimination Memo Activision Workers Sent to Management
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Read the Discrimination Memo Activision Workers Sent to Management

In the wake of a historic, successful unionization drive at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software, Activision employees in Los Angeles are now ramping up pressure on the video game developer—sending a lengthy memo to management on Tuesday laying out demands on workplace issues ranging from the company’s handling of sexual harassment cases to trans workers’ rights.

The four-page letter, obtained by dot.LA, was sent by members of ABetterABK, a coalition of Activision Blizzard workers that began mobilizing last year amid the high-profile workplace misconduct controversies that have arisen at the Santa Monica-based company. ABetterABK sent the memo one day after employees at Activision’s Wisconsin-based Raven Software studio voted in favor of certifying their Game Workers Alliance union—the first labor union at a major video game publisher in the U.S.

Following that labor victory, ABetterABK, which is not a union, has now taken the initiative and laid out a series of demands to Activision via a newly formed Worker Committee Against Sex & Gender Discrimination. Those demands include ending the practice of mandatory arbitration for discrimination and sexual harassment cases at Activision—which would let accusers take their alleged abusers, as well as the company itself, to court—and requiring that an outside, independent third-party investigate all such claims.

The memo also requests 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all new parents, during which they would receive 100% of their normal compensation and cannot lose their position. It also notes Activision’s “history of discrimination towards employees who lactate,” and calls for workplace practices and facilities that protect and support breastfeeding parents, such as private feeding rooms and breastmilk storage equipment.

There is also a section addressing Activision’s treatment of transgender employees. The memo demands support for trans workers “pre, during and post-transition,” as well as the creation of a “trans network” supporting trans employees at Activision and an “advisory committee of support for [human resources], recruiting and employees at large” regarding trans issues in the workplace.

ABetterABK is also demanding that Activision institute stricter enforcement of its anti-harassment policy for gamers and content creators, who would be subject to bans for violating the policy.

“We believe it is imperative that workers have a voice in Activision Blizzard’s anti-discrimination policies—without that, the company’s culture of harassment and abuse will continue to go unchecked,” ABetterABK member Emily Knief, who works as a senior motion graphic designer at Activision, said in a statement. “We hope to have a productive conversation with leadership where they acknowledge these growing concerns and enact the demands brought forth by the committee.”

Sources told dot.LA that ABetterABK sent its letter Tuesday to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, chief people officer Julie Hodges and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer Kristen Hines, who recently joined the company in April.

“We appreciate that these employees want to join with us to further build a better Activision Blizzard and continue the progress we have already made,” an Activision spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. “We have, for example, already upgraded our lactation facilities, waived arbitration, hired new DEI and EEO leaders, and collaborated with employees to make our policies and processes more Trans inclusive, just to name a few issues the letter raises. We thank these employees, and will continue to work with all of our employees on our journey to be a better Company.”

Heightened tensions between management and employees at Activision come as the game developer looks to finalize its $69 billion sale to Microsoft. While the Seattle tech giant has said that it won’t stand in the way of union efforts at Activision, the gaming company refused to voluntarily recognize the Raven Software union, which set the table for Monday’s vote.

“We respect and believe in the right of all employees to decide whether or not to support or vote for a union,” Activision spokesperson Talia Ron told dot.LA on Monday, in the wake of the Game Workers Alliance’s successful union certification vote. “We believe that an important decision that will impact the entire Raven Software studio of roughly 350 people should not be made by 19 Raven employees.”

Labor organizers working with the Raven employees told dot.LA earlier this year that they hope to expand unionization efforts across the entire company—though there’s no clear indication yet that organizers at ABetterABK or other Activision worker groups are seeking to unionize.

Read the ABetterABK letter to Activision management in its entirety below:
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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.