“We have to make sure that all of our LGBT people, all of ABK’s people [Activision Blizzard King] with pregnancy ability, all women in the company feel safe and protected and that they have the ability to live in places that aren’t going to actively harm them,” said California-based senior engineer Valentine Powell on “World of Warcraft.”
Some of the protests will take place in Texas, in particular, where Activision has remote offices and workers and where abortion was already heavily restricted before the Supreme Court ruling. Several dozen workers gathered in Austin on Thursday to hold signs reading “Gender Equity Now” and “Sound your horn if you support workers’ rights!”
“This walkout is the right thing to do. ABK should be ashamed of pushing employees out instead of accepting requests and creating a safer workplace,” said Fabby Garza, a Texas-based Activision QA tester who helped organize the walkout. . “To live in Texas as a person of a marginalized sex is to live in fear that at any moment more rights will be taken away from you.”
“We support the right of our employees to express their opinions and values in a safe and responsible manner, without fear of reprisal. There are many ways to do this publicly or privately,” Rich George, spokesperson for Activision Blizzard told The Washington Post. “Our leadership team remains focused on ensuring we are the best place to work. This includes ensuring gender equity across the company and full access to reproductive health and other services for every employee. .
Organizers said the increasingly inhospitable legal landscape for marginalized people was what prompted them to organize the strike.
“I’m not binary,” said Logan La Coss, a longtime Blizzard customer support employee in Texas who helped organize the walkout. “People like me aren’t exactly in the best position if various protected categories had just had their rights revoked. So we are looking for ways to get people to safety in an effective way. It was the biggest push to put it all together.
Workers in Minnesota are also exiting, with the highest expected turnout compared to other parts of the business across the country.
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“The demand for remote work is very close to my heart. As someone with chronic pain and fatigue as well as anxiety, it’s much easier to manage these things in a controlled remote work environment,” said Minnesota-based QA tester Kate Anderson. “We have tried to rally around remote work requests in the past, especially with the walkout of the vaccination mandate [in April]. In Minnesota we have seen several covid breakouts when trying to return to the office in the past.
Activision Blizzard employees have quit five times in a year, including to protest the lifting of a vaccination mandate, in response to layoffs, and to demand the resignation of their beleaguered CEO. The employees first quit exactly a year ago following the company’s response to a sexual harassment and misconduct lawsuit in the state of California.
Protests over the layoffs eventually culminated in a labor campaign at Activision-owned Raven Software; 28 QA testers won their bid for a union in May. On Tuesday, workers at Blizzard Albany — which is participating in today’s walkouts — announced they had filed a union election petition with the National Labor Relations Board.
In early July, 10 anti-queer and trans laws in different states went into effect, including Florida banning classroom discussions of gender and sexuality and an Alabama law that bars transgender students from using classrooms. baths and lockers corresponding to their gender.
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But even in places where gender-affirming care is available, it can still be difficult to obtain, and transgender people may need to seek it out of state. Abortion advocates have expressed concern that even in states where abortion is protected, resources will be dispersed across demand.
“I deeply believe that the company should do what it can to protect employees, so their silence on Dobbs [decision to overturn Roe v. Wade] and anti-trans legislation sends the message that they don’t value us enough to provide what I think are very reasonable requests,” said Allen Junge, a quality assurance functional tester based in Minnesota.
Activision Blizzard employees specifically request relocation services for those living in states with restrictive laws, such as Texas’ six-week abortion ban. Several states, including Texas and Missouri, target people who “help and encourage” their residents to seek out-of-state abortion and reproductive care.
Activision Blizzard isn’t the only company whose workers are protesting the loss of abortion rights. Several employees of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, in Texas as well as across the country attended protests in June against the Supreme Court’s decision to roll back. Roe vs. Wade. Google did not return a request for comment.
“As the world’s largest search engine, Google has a responsibility to do more to protect the privacy of its users, end its financial support for anti-abortion politicians, and ensure greater access to the abortion for all workers,” said Alejandra Beatty, member of the Alphabet Workers. Union-CWA and technical program manager at Verily, an Alphabet-owned company. “We stand with workers at Google, Alphabet, Activision Blizzard and across industries, fighting for reproductive justice and gender equity.”
Anne Branigin contributed to this report.