Activision Blizzard is officially lifting its vaccine mandate for US corporate employees, and workers have announced they plan to walk out in protest. The company confirmed to The Verge that it has already ended the mandate, and A Better ABK, an organization of Activision Blizzard employees advocating for better working conditions, announced Friday that employees will walk out of work on April 4th at 1PM ET in protest.
Jessica Gonzalez, a former Activision Blizzard employee and a founder of A Better ABK, originally revealed that the company was changing its vaccine policy on Twitter Thursday evening. 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 vaccine mandate for all US employees,” Bulatao says in the text shared by Gonzalez. Bulatao also discussed the company’s return-to-office policies, though acknowledged that they differed across the business. Bloomberg gaming journalist Jason Schreier reported on the email shortly after.
LEAKED: Brian Bulatao emailed all of ABK to talk returning to office in June. They will not be enforcing proof of vaccination. I’m sure the ‘benefits’ of in person collaboration is actually so employees organizing can be followed and monitored closely. Do not die for this company pic.twitter.com/MSOwWVYBR3
— Jessica Gonzalez is a chair (@_TechJess) March 31, 2022
“As part of returning to office, Blizzard and Activision Blizzard held several feedback sessions and polls over the course of three months, at the end of which they decided to mandate the vaccine for workers coming into office,” a representative for ABK Workers Alliance said to Polygon. “This was the agreement under which people agreed to come back. This recent change was not run by any employees before being announced.”
On Friday, Bulatao sent another email to clarify the company’s policies — seemingly assuring employees that not all of them will need to return to work if they’re uncomfortable. “For the majority of our employees, we are still operating under a voluntary return to office opportunity,” he said in the email, which was shared with The Verge. “Although we are not on a company-wide basis requiring vaccinations to enter our buildings in the US, 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 risk.”
Schreier also reported that Blizzard chief Mike Ybarra sent an email Friday saying that Blizzard, specifically, will require vaccination for the next few months at least.
At the same time, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra emailed staff saying they’ll continue to require vaccination for at least the next few months and that about 80% of their employees in Irvine, Austin, and Albany have uploaded proof of vaccination
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) April 1, 2022
A Better ABK made three demands of the company on Friday, which I will quote below and which you can see in the embedded tweet that follows:
An immediate reversal to lifting the…