Workers at Activision Blizzard this week announced some wins from the ongoing controversy surrounding the company and its treatment of employees. It comes after the CEO of Activision took a massive pay cut and promised changes late last month.
On Wednesday, Blizzard Senior Test Analyst Jessica Gonzalez, a member of the Activision Blizzard King Workers Alliance (ABK), tweeted a list of changes temporary contract workers at Activision Blizzard would begin receiving. Gonzalez calls it a huge victory but admits ABK’s work isn’t finished.
The company increased the minimum salary for contractors to $17 per hour. They’ll get paid time off during Thanksgiving and winter break. Starting in 2022, they’ll get 13 paid holidays per year, with the number of sick days increased to nine to match that given to Blizzard employees. There will also be new career growth and learning programs.
Last week ABK’s official Twitter account reported that Blizzard was forcing contractors to take unpaid leave during the holidays, making this week’s announcement a significant turnaround. ABK also put out a general call on Twitter for people to share their work experiences, and many contractors have since replied. Last week Gonzalez mentioned having to sleep under her desk and rely on welfare for medical insurance.
ABK comprises employees from Activision, Blizzard, and King (King isn’t mentioned as much as Activision and Blizzard but is part of the same family) and started after the employee walkout that happened over the summer. The protest was a reaction to Activision Blizzard’s initial response to a sexual harassment and employment discrimination lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The lawsuit accused the company of allowing a “frat house” culture where female employees were subject to sexual harassment and pay discrimination. Later, Activision Blizzard was accused of intimidating employees and holding up the investigation process. It also faced an investigation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which it settled for $18 million, as well as an investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Around 20 employees have left the company, including a former president, chief legal officer, and multiple game designers.
At the end of October, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick cut his own annual pay all the way down to $62,500 and published an open letter listing commitments he was making to change the company. They include a zero-tolerance harassment policy and hiring more women and gender-nonbinary people at Activision Blizzard.