Activision Blizzard is officially lifting its vaccination mandate for employees of American companies, and workers have announced that they plan to walk out in protest. The company has confirmed The edge that he has already terminated the term, and A Better ABK, an organization of Activision Blizzard employees that campaigns for better working conditions, announced Friday that employees will leave work on April 4 at 1 p.m. ET in protest.
Jessica Gonzalez, former Activision Blizzard employee and founder of A Better ABK, initially revealed 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 administrative officer. “Effective immediately, we are lifting our vaccination mandate for all U.S. employees,” Bulatao says in the text shared by Gonzalez. Bulatao also discussed the company’s return-to-work policies, while acknowledging that they differ from company to company. Bloomberg gaming reporter Jason Schreier reported the email A little after.
LEAK: Brian Bulatao has emailed all of ABK to talk about his return to the office in June. They will not require proof of vaccination. I’m sure the “benefits” of in-person collaboration is actually that the employee organization can be closely tracked and monitored. Don’t die for this company pic.twitter.com/MSOwWVYBR3
— Jessica Gonzalez is President (@_TechJess) March 31, 2022
“As part of their return to power, Blizzard and Activision Blizzard held several feedback sessions and polls over the course of three months, at the end of which they decided to make the vaccine mandatory for workers entering the job,” said one. representative of ABK Workers Alliance. for Polygon. “That was the agreement under which people agreed to come back. This recent change was not led by any employee before it was announced.
Bulatao sent another email on Friday to clarify company policies – apparently assuring employees that not everyone will need to return to work if they are uncomfortable. “For the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to the office opportunity,” he said in the email, which was shared with The edge. “While we do not company-wide require that vaccinations enter our buildings in the United States, 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 risks.
Schreier also reported that Blizzard chief Mike Ybarra sent an email on Friday saying that Blizzard, in particular, will be requiring a vaccination for at least the next few months.
Meanwhile, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra emailed staff saying they will continue to require vaccinations for at least the next few months and that approximately 80% of their employees in Irvine, Austin and Albany uploaded proof of vaccination.
—Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) April 1, 2022
A better ABK done three business requirements Friday, which I will quote below and which you can see in the following embedded tweet:
An immediate reversal of the lifting of the vaccine requirement
Remote work should be offered as a permanent solution
The decision to work remotely or in the office must be made by each employee
1. An immediate reversal of the lifting of the vaccine requirement
2. Remote work should be offered as a permanent solution
3. The decision to work remotely or in the office must be made by each employee
– ABetterABK ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) April 1, 2022
Following clarification from Activision Blizzard, the group retweeted a Blizzard employee but has yet to post its own response.
Breaking: Brian Bulatao conceded to allow each studio to choose their own vaccine mandate requirements. So far, I’ve heard that Blizzard, QAMN, QALA, and QATX have reinstated a vaccine mandate. I hope to hear that all my colleagues from ABK will be protected in the same way.
— Valentin Powell ️ ️⚧️ (@valentine_irl) April 1, 2022
It is unclear how many workers are expected to leave, and according to Polygon, “a representative of the group did not have an estimate of the number of participants.” Gonzalez did not respond to a Twitter DM, and the A Better ABK Twitter account did not respond to a tweet asking for clarification. Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Activision Blizzard employees have already left the company in response to the scandals that have plagued the company lately. In July, staff walked out after the state of California sued the company for sexual harassment, and more than 350 people attended, according to The Washington Post. More than 150 people attended a walkout following an explosive the wall street journal report alleging CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct at the company, according to Polygon. And another walkout came following the layoffs of a dozen quality assurance staff who worked at a studio involved in the huge hit. Call of Duty series, with at least 200 outputs, depending on The Washington Post.
Here’s the full statement from Activision Blizzard at The edgevia spokesperson Kelvin Liu:
The health and safety of our employees is at the forefront of everything we do, including our return to office policy. Although Activision Blizzard’s vaccination mandate in the United States has been lifted, for the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary back-to-work opportunity. Additionally, employees who are not comfortable returning to the office are encouraged to work with their manager and our HR team to explore work accommodation options that suit their individual circumstances. We will continue to monitor the conditions and make adjustments to the policy as needed.
We recognize that some employees may participate in a walkout to express their views. The company supports the right of our employees to express their opinions in a safe and non-threatening manner, and will not retaliate for any decision to participate in this walkout. The company also hopes that those who come out will behave in a legal, safe and non-violent manner.
And here is the text of Brian Bulatao’s last email:
By: Brian Bulatao
Subject: Vaccine Policy Update
Date: April 1, 2022
Yesterday I shared an update that we are lifting our corporate vaccination mandate for all US employees. Following the questions that have since emerged, I want to clarify what this means in terms of decision making across our organization about what is best for a particular business unit or location.
First, since the start of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of employees our top priority. Our decisions have been 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 are still operating under a voluntary return to work opportunity. We will continue to monitor the conditions and make adjustments to the policy as needed.
Although we do not require company-wide vaccinations to enter our buildings in the United States, 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 sites based on local conditions and risk.
Thank you for your opinion. We will continue to clarify our plans as we get closer to our full return date.