Sunday, December 4

Activision Blizzard Exec sends union busting email to employees

Activision Blizard senior executive and former State Department official Brian Bulatao sent an email discouraging workers from unionizing.

2021 has been an unpleasant year to be a Activision Blizzard executive. The company’s culture of sexual harassment is now in the public domain, and even CEO Bobby Kotick faces serious allegations. After a year of lawsuits, protests, calls for boycotts and public convictions, one might expect Activision Blizzard to at least keep its head down until the end of the year.

However, that hasn’t happened, with Activision-Blizzard once again courting controversy. This time, the company faces a backlash online after sending an email discouraging Blizzard employees from unionizing.

The email was sent today, December 10, and is signed by Activision Blizzard Managing Director Brian Bulatao, a former CIA and later State Department official. Multiple sources were quick to share her message on Twitter, including Blizzard Senior Test Analyst and Workers’ Rights Advocate Jessica Gonzalez. The email itself begins by thanking Blizzard employees and reminding them of the company’s recent decision to relocate 500 full-time temporary workers and implement what it calls a “zero tolerance policy” for sexual harassment in the workplace. . It conveniently overlooks the company’s willingness to sweep complaints under the rug for years. The fact that Bobby Kotick retains his CEO role further calls into question the sincerity of the company.

Regardless, the gist of the email begins in paragraph two, which addresses a recent statement endorsed by The Communications Workers of America encouraging Activision Blizzard employees to apply for union membership. The CWA is North America’s largest trade union specializing in communications and media, with more than 700,000 members in the US and Canada. Historically, the union has specialized in the telecommunications sector, although it has expanded to include several related industries.

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Blizzard email encourages employees to “consider the consequences” of organizing under the CWA banner. The message acknowledges that Activision Blizzard employees have the legal right to unionize if they vote in favor. However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Blizzard’s email opposes unionization. Instead, the Bulatao email emphasizes that Blizzard employees would grant the CWA the right to negotiate with Activision Blizzard on their behalf. Bulatao’s message holds that “Achieving our aspirations for workplace culture will best be achieved through an active and transparent dialogue between leaders and employees that we can act on quickly.”

Of course, that claim is based on Activision Blizzard acting in good faith when dealing with its employees. Given everything the public has learned about Blizzard specifically and the AAA gaming industry in general, it’s understandable that not everyone finds the company’s arguments compelling. Still, unionization in the gaming industry remains controversial, and it is Activision Blizzard employees who will have to make the decision.

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