When the Activision Blizzard Employee Council (ABKE) filed a petition asking for better working conditions, executives responded by taking away their bonuses for 2017. This response has led to unionization efforts among employees and threatens Activision’s bottom line.
The “abk workers alliance union” is a union that was started by Activision Blizzard employees in order to increase the company’s efforts to unionize. This has caused some tension between the two groups, as Activision Blizzard executives responded to the movement with hostility.
Following a fourth day of strike after a dozen Raven Software employees were told their temporary contracts would not be renewed in January, Activision Blizzard employee efforts to unionize have exploded, with the ABK Workers Alliance handing out union authorization cards to employees to demonstrate their intent to form a union. Activision Blizzard’s executive branch has responded with greater action, starting with the statement earlier this week that 500 temporary workers will be transitioned to full-time, and now emails from both Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao and Chief People Officer Julie Hodges.
By now, you’ve probably received an email. Jessica Gonzalez, an A Better ABK organizer who is now a former Activision employee, reiterates Activision’s previous actions and urges employees to think carefully before giving away their collective rights.
What Does It Take to Form a Labor Union?
These expanded efforts mark a turning point in A Better ABK’s attempts to fight for worker’s rights, as seen by the c-reaction, suite’s but it’s crucial to note that unionization isn’t that simple. Despite pleas that Activision voluntarily recognize unionization initiatives, they are unable to do so. Activision cannot legally recognize a union without proof that a majority of its employees (more than 50% of Activision Blizzard’s nearly 10,000 employees) want to be unionized – something that has yet to be proven – and they cannot legally force employees who do not want to be unionized to recognize one. This may be achieved with a simple show of hands in a small firm, but it’s considerably more difficult in larger companies, and is normally performed through the distribution of signed petitions or union cards to prove that purpose, which began yesterday. From here, it’s a numbers game: with 50% of workers, Activision might quickly recognize unionization; otherwise, the The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a federal agency that will need at least 30% of employees to trigger a vote.
National Labor Relations Board
Are you not represented by a union but would want to be?
If a majority of employees desire to create a union, they may choose between two options: The NLRB will hold an election if at least 30% of employees sign cards or petitions expressing their desire for a union. The NLRB will certify the union as your representative for collective bargaining if a majority of those who vote select it. A union might become your representation in a variety of ways, including via elections. Your employer may choose to recognize a union based on proof (usually signed union authorization cards) showing the majority of workers want it to represent them. Once a union has been certified or recognized, your employer is obligated to negotiate with your union representative regarding your terms and conditions of work. The building business has its own set of regulations.
Despite the amount of discussion on social media, this is far from guaranteed, since we’re talking about 3,000 to 5,000 individuals who all agree on something. Even if the workers get the required 50% support or 30% plus a successful vote, there are still a number of processes to consider, including choosing union officials, ratifying a contract, and collecting union dues. Most of this, presumably, would be handled with the help of the Communication Workers of America, which has already been advising and will almost certainly consolidate with whatever group Activision employees form, but it isn’t a quick process, and we won’t see the results of any potential unionization for quite some time.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Unionization
A labor union is, at its most basic level, a collection of workers who band together to bargain with company owners about salary and working conditions, but there are numerous factors to consider before joining one. One individual bargaining doesn’t have the same influence as a group, but there are a lot more moving elements, and unions have a role in politics, especially if you join a bigger organization like the Communications Employees of America, which represents a significant number of workers across dozens of sectors.
Detractors will point out that unions bring the power of collective bargaining rights to the table, but they also work for the collective, which isn’t always in line with individual goals – while union members vote for union leaders, they aren’t always satisfied with the decisions those leaders make. Members of unions must pay dues to finance their expenditures, which generally range from 2-4 percent of a worker’s wage plus possible initiation fees, however this varies widely and not all members pay dues or pay the same amount. The anti-union Center for Union Facts states that senior officials of the AFL-CIO and many other unions receive six-figure incomes and utilize member dues on political campaigns for politicians that the workers may not necessarily favor. Unions are also seen as more adversarial, pitting the union against both management and non-union workers, and they typically favor seniority in the workplace, which can be good or bad depending on whether you’re an older employee who is protected or a newer employee who is laid off despite potentially doing better work.
Unions, on the other hand, are almost unanimously acknowledged as protecting workers’ rights and increasing negotiating power, resulting in greater advocacy and equality than non-unionized employees. Union members often earn more than their non-unionized colleagues as a result of stronger advocacy, which more than covers the cost of any union dues. Historically, unions have been in charge of providing a broad variety of worker benefits, including hourly work limitations, age limits, weekends, paid time off, and generally minimizing workplace abuse. Rather of being locked in dead-end employment with little mobility, unionized workers enjoy more job stability and typically have more opportunities for advancement. For these reasons, many people believe the compromises are well worth it, especially for employees on the bottom rungs of a company’s hierarchy (such as CS and QA) who need the most assistance.
Management Responsibilities and Executive Responses
Although the leadership answer calling for patience is inevitable, some workers are naturally offended by the perception that it discourages unionization. Ironically, it may have the opposite effect, energizing those who are already pro-union and bringing the issue to the forefront for those who aren’t, but we’ve reached a point where actions speak louder than words on both sides, and now is the time for employees to choose a side and demonstrate whether enough of them truly want to unionize.
There are various laws to consider about what managers may and cannot say or do during efforts to unionize, which neither party wants to be violated.
Another email from Activision Blizzard’s Chief People Officer Julie Hodges to Activision Blizzard managers provides management training to give advice through what will undoubtedly be a difficult moment. Although individuals concerned about union-busting may interpret the message adversely, it is really a critical step for both parties, since there are various laws surrounding management actions during efforts to unionize that must be properly studied. The NLRB may take extremely severe legal action if it seems that management are eavesdropping on or interfering with unionization activities.
Employees now have control over the situation, regardless of what CEOs or activists say. Although the struggle is far from finished, now is the moment for everyone of Activision Blizzard’s workers to decide whether or not they want to support unionization efforts, since it impacts them all.
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The “abk blizzard” is a unionization effort that Activision Blizzard executives have responded to. The company has made it clear that they will not allow the unionization of their employees.
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