Activision Blizzard workers take first steps toward unionizing

Activision Blizzard employees in Irvine stage a walkout in July.
Workers at Activision have staged three walkouts since July, including this one in Irvine.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Some employees at Activision Blizzard Inc. are taking initial steps toward organizing in an industry that isn’t unionized.

In collaboration with the Communications Workers of America, employees of the nation’s second-largest video game publisher are asking colleagues to sign a union authorization card, which could eventually lead to a vote across the company. Their efforts coincide with the creation of a strike fund to support hundreds of workers who have been participating in a work stoppage since Monday in protest of layoffs at one of Activision Blizzard’s studios.

(CWA is also the parent union of the NewsGuild, which represents workers at the Los Angeles Times and most major newspapers in the country.)

One of the country’s largest unions is targeting video game and tech companies — and hired a Southern California organizer to spearhead the project

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Workers at Santa Monica-based Activision, known for games such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” have staged three protests since July, after a California agency sued the company over allegations of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Issues have snowballed since then, including an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a class-action shareholder lawsuit. Employees and the Communications Workers of America also filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the company.


Organization around the protests and a call for a strike are being initiated by the ABK Workers Alliance, which represents the employees from the company’s largest studios, Activision, Blizzard and King. The Washington Post earlier reported on the unionization efforts.

A spokesperson for ABK said the group had already gathered several hundred signatures before this move, as it has been working with the CWA and the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees for months. If the group can collect union cards from 30% of workers in any of Activision Blizzard’s business units, it will be able to call for votes within those units, the spokesperson said.

Activision workers’ biggest concern right now is having a voice in what’s happening at the company, the spokesperson said, adding that workers have been “ignored and swept aside” for months.