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Activision Blizzard employees plan new walkout over lifting vaccine mandates [Update]

Blizzard Entertainment Hq
Blizzard Entertainment Hq (Image credit: Carli Velocci / Windows Central)

Update 7:45 p.m. ET: Activision Blizzard allowing studios to set their own mandates.

What you need to know

  • A group of Activision Blizzard employees are planning a walkout.
  • The walkout will be held on April 4, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. PT.
  • The workers are protesting the removal of the vaccine mandate and asking for remote work to be offered on a permanent basis.

Activision Blizzard employees are planning a new walkout, pushing back on several elements of the current planned return to office for the company.

According to an announcement from the ABK Workers Alliance, a group of employees are planning to walk out on Monday, April 4 at 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET. The workers have three demands: Reversing the removal of the current vaccine mandate at the company, offering remote work as a permanent solution, and the ability for individual employees to make the decision to work remotely or return to an office.

This comes after months of prior walkouts as workers have demanded accountability from company leadership in light of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit that broke in 2021. Employees from Raven Software ended a strike in January 2022 as part of efforts to seek recognition as a union.

Activision Blizzard is currently in the process of being acquired by Microsoft in a deal worth almost $69 billion. The deal is currently awaiting shareholder approval and undergoing regulatory approval, and is estimated to close sometime before June 2023. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is widely reported to be leaving the company following the complete of the acquisition. Over 1,800 employees at Activision Blizzard have signed a petition asking for the removal of Kotick.

If finalized, the deal will add Activision Blizzard as a third Xbox first-party publisher, alongside Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks.

Activision Bizzard allowing studios to set their own mandates

According to Blizzard UI engineer Valentine Powell on Twitter, the company is allowing studios to set their own vaccine mandates following backlash against a decision to end them for the entire organization.

See more

So far, Blizzard, QAMN, QALA, and QATX have reinstated the mandates.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

75 Comments
  • Based on this report, sure sounds like this group, beyond the known management problems, also has HR problems in the other direction -- entitled whiny employees who don't care at all about the company. I appreciate that may well be the result of years of bad and abusive management, so I want to cut them some slack, but if they can't go back to being team players once they have fair leadership, then they are poison to any organization who takes them on. I hope that MS isn't just acquiring a headache for itself. Walking out because your company is relaxing rules to be more inclusive to different points of view (both those who want vaccines and those who don't) seems the ultimate expression of selfishness and disdain for your coworkers to me.
  • These are the same type of employees that work at other tech companies, like Google and Twitter, that have too much influence on the companies rules. These people are activists and should be fired.
  • Absolutely agree. It's a shame that all gets mixed up, because their initial concerns were fair. But you know, as long as the word "union" get mentioned, it's all downhill.
  • Spoken like someone who's never worked for any. I spent 18 years between Microsoft and Amazon. Employees have virtually no influence. Management runs everything, and most are psychopaths. Employees need more of a say, and unionization must come to tech at some point or else they will continue to be serfs.
  • "relaxing rules to be more inclusive to different points of view" Not being vaccinated is a threat to the health of coworkers and their families. This isn't a libertarian issue. It's an issue for idiots who believe everything they read on the internet and who don't care about other people. "seems the ultimate expression of selfishness and disdain for your coworkers to me" But you think NOT getting the safe vaccination that saves lives is, what, caring for others? Jesus, you are not the clearest thinker, Colin.
  • Sorry pal, vaccinated people can pass the virus. And how many of these people that claim to be so fearful of unvaccinated people, go on about their lives as normal when not at work, not caring of the person around them is vaccinated or not? Probably most of them.
  • Vaccinated people are less likely to pass on the virus. That's the important statistic. No vaccine ever has been prefect at preventing infection, disease or contagion. But they are good at reducing all those things, and if enough people are vaccinated, you can achieve herd immunity with lower community risk. This is true of all effective vaccines.
  • Natural immunity has shown to be more effective than the vaccine. These activists have ignored science. The true hard workers of America are tired of the entitled attitudes. It's a free country. If you don't like your company, leave. But good luck finding another company that's going to put up with your beef-of-the-day.
  • "Natural immunity" has proven no such thing, in fact the opposite is true, it's proven unreliable and since Omicron ineffective entirely. https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/omicron-is-trouncing-the-argumen... Protection via vaccines decays at a relatively predictable rate, which is why we have time periods for boosters, immunity via infection is unpredictable and can wane anywhere from one month to six months, and Omicron seems to leave zero immunity in it's wake at all, including against itself. I know people who are on their third infection already, which wrecks any arguments in favor of so-called natural immunity.
  • Andrew, ignoring the ad hominem and name calling, which unfortunately undermines your credibility, you make valid points. I'll tackle them here: There are scenarios where I would agree with you. In general, I do support vaccination requirements for kids to attend schools. The pertinent reasoning there parallels your point: vaccines are not 100% effective, but if ~80% of the population is protected, that dramatically reduces the ability of a virus to spread. Therefore, vaccination requirements drive herd immunity which in turn neutralizes the virus across the population. For viruses that are particularly dangerous, that herd immunity is vital to protecting even those who are vaccinated but in the ~20% who are not actually protected by the vaccination. However, the situation is very different with SARS-COV-2 vaccinations due to the specifics of the virus and current vaccinations: 1. If you have a COVID vaccination, you are relatively safe. It doesn't mean you can't catch the virus, but it means it won't be particularly dangerous, significantly less dangerous than the typical strains of influenza per CDC data. This means that for those who want to get a vaccination (as you and I both have presumably done), it doesn't really matter if others have gotten it. The vaccinated are safe (enough -- nothing is 100%) regardless. 2. With the emergence of the omicron variant and its new BA.2 sub-variant, vaccinations are not particularly helpful at driving herd immunity. As noted in #1, the virus still spreads among the vaccinated. Now, if there were a new vaccine for the new strains, like a seasonal flu shot, that might be different, but there is no such update. Just the original. Therefore, the chief reason for vaccine mandates -- protecting the vaccinated from the "stupidity" of others -- is off the table. 3. The danger of COVID-19 to most of the people working in a gaming company (based on the bell curve of their age distributions), even pre-Omicron, was very low, only slightly worse than the flu, which has never had a mandate (and yes, I get a flu shot every year and recommend them to everyone). COVID-19 is EXTREMELY dangerous to those past retirement age, but was relatively harmless to most younger people, excepting those who know themselves to be in a high-risk category due to pre-existing conditions. Omicron flattened the age distribution significantly and finally started hitting younger people, but it also dropped to a much lower fatality rate (typical of virus mutations -- they generally mutate into more contagious and less dangerous forms over time). For those reasons, while I still absolutely support the vaccine and recommend it to my friends, family, and colleagues, I can't support a mandate taking away people's freedom, at this point in time based on the current vaccines, especially at a company with a younger than average workforce. That could change if there were a new vaccine that offered a promise of eliminating COVID-19 like we have done to polio (as opposed to just weakening it for those who contract it) or if a new strain came along that were more dangerous to those who were already vaccinated. Worse than all of that was my point about the people demanding this. I do actually support a private company's right to implement a vaccine mandate if that company wishes. Frankly, I even support the employee's right to ask this of their employer. However, I also think those people who do that with a threat of consequences for non-compliance are fundamentally unfit employees. In a world where Activision/Blizzard were not known for its abusive management, an employer should exercise its right to fire people who walk out to demand something like this. I don't think Activision/Blizzard should, because they've created this environment and now are reaping the consequences of their own mismanagement, but that doesn't make what this group of employees is doing acceptable. Like the child of abuse -- you can understand and have some empathy for how and why that child grew to become a criminal, but that doesn't make the crime acceptable.
  • Covid vaccines are good at protecting against hospitalization and death during the infection. They do not completely mitigate the other effects of covid, however, such as drastically increased risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes, heart attacks and so on, cognitive impairments, organ and brain damage, etc. Measuring impact by only considering hospitalization and death distorts the full picture of the diseases impact on both society and the individual. The simple solution to this for companies like Activision-Blizzard is to move to a hybrid model: Those who want to work in the office do, those who do not are WFH/remote. For the type of business they are in virtually the entire white collar side of the company can work remote without impacting anything.
  • David, I have no problem with your conclusion on using a hybrid model (because that may well be a solution that everyone could be happy with while keeping their jobs), but I don't think that speaks to the logic several of us have presented here on the fundamental problem of one group of employees demanding behavior by another group (not clear from info in the article if they represent only a small % or the majority, but that wouldn't change the ethical problem of their demand). There should be an incredibly high bar for any such demand, because presumably we can all agree we would not want our co-workers demanding we do something we don't want to do. I strongly support vaccines. In the case of some viruses, I even support mandating them for the public health. COVID is just not dangerous enough to be in that group of viruses for me. I believe the data supports that based on other viruses for which we already don't mandate vaccines (e.g., influenza), but I would admit that available data on COVID is still in the relatively early stages and it may be years before we have true clarity on some of the facets we think we know now.
  • I have zero problem with their demand since the company is not offering a full remote option. If the company does that then they can make the call as to whether they wish for unvaccinated or vaccinated employees at the office. Forcing the vaccinated and immuno-compromised to mix by forcing all to the office is a fundamental breach against the same autonomy you claim employees should be protected against. It is taking away a person's ability to make their own level of risk decision making. For myself, I both have health issues that would make COVID, even a light case as I am fully vaccinated, very dangerous before we consider long term implications. I also am the sole caretaker of my aunt, who has a number of health issues and is in decline due to alzheimer's. I already have to make strategic decisions around risk to ensure her care, but if she gets it her doctors have been clear it will kill her despite her vaccination status. A friend of mine has had to fight his managers for months now about going into the office, both his son and daughter have serious conditions that have degraded their immune systems and he is rightfully unwilling to compromise that for a job that he's been doing remotely for two years now with only minimal office visits. Basically I don't entirely disagree with your points, but until Activision-Blizzard gives employees the ability to make their own risk decisions the rest is academic. They are instead trying to force those who are risk averse for many reasons to take risks they are unwilling to take. And for me, any argument starts there since it takes only one infection to spread to an entire campus.
  • Lots of high minded words don't mask unclear thinking. (By the way, saying your thinking is unclear is not an ad hominem attack. Saying people who don't get the vaccine because they believe nonsense on the internet are idiots most certainly is. Do you disagree with that characterization? You called it "diversity of opinion," which is more cute than anything.) No vaccine is a perfect protection against transmission. People live with and regularly visit those who are elderly, immunocompromised, or have other underlying risks. It's been two years and we are all familiar with this fact. You just don't find it convenient because you want to portray workers who care about public health as the ones who are being unreasonable, not the ones who are putting the public's health at risk. As with several other things I've seen in your previous comments, you seem to think you have sophisticated backing for your bad ideas, but you don't. Your bad ideas are just bad.
  • Andrew, I agree that "saying your thinking is unclear is not an ad hominem attack." However, "It's an issue for idiots" and "Ignorant, childish people" are, both of which are terms you used just here on this page. I am not trying to use "high minded words." In all cases, I respect and try to use facts (data, history), logic (reasoning), and ethics (themselves largely constructible from facts and logic, but with an added element of priorities, which can vary between people, hence the different conclusions ethical people can reach on complex issues like abortion). If you can show me the flaw in my facts or logic, you may very well convince me that I'm missing something and I'll happily change my mind. Absent that, I'll reiterate: I believe I have laid out why vaccine mandates may be OK for some viruses, but why at least the current vaccines should not be mandated for COVID because: 1. Nearly everyone who wants one can safely get vaccinated. Those people are at very low risk of complications from COVID even if they get the virus. There are some individuals who can't get the vaccine for medical reasons and some who are at extreme risk due to age or pre-existing medical conditions. I would support special consideration for those who can't get a vaccination for medical reasons, similar to people protected under the ADA. 2. Current COVID vaccines don't significantly protect the vaccinated against spread through herd immunity (prior to the omicron strain they did, but omicron and BA.2 infect the vaccinated at a significant rate). This means that there is no material benefit to me if you get vaccinated, which in turn means it's none of my business if anyone else gets vaccinated. 3. Further, a point I had not raised before, is precedent, which is what we should always look to in cases like this, as the courts do: the flu. We do not require people to get flu vaccines and flu vaccines have a greater impact on herd immunity (meaning they are more important to helping protect the vaccinated against breakthrough infections spread by the unvaccinated). Therefore, the logic here is clear: anyone who wants can get vaccinated and there is no reason to mandate others get vaccinated. To be very clear: I do think everyone who can should get vaccinated. My argument here is with the selfishness of the Activision Blizzard employees demanding their co-workers have a medical procedure done to them against their will. The bar for such a demand should be incredibly high, and per the reasoning here, I don't see any justification for such a demand. Do you see a flaw in my reasoning? Do you dispute any of the facts I've asserted? If so, those would be fair and possibly persuasive counters. To just say that I'm wrong and not being rational doesn't give enough information to persuade me to change my mind.
  • Well said and I totally agree
  • You just pointed out one of the reasons the other big tech companies passed on buying activision.
    A rude awakening is coming to s lot of employees at Activision: yes, MS pays 25-50% more tan typical gaming industry salaries and they don't micromanage their gaming studios, but MS as a whole routinely fires the bottom 5% of performers.
    They can be as ruthless as any other tech company.
    They're just a kindler, gentler kind of ruthless. 😁
  • If performance is correlated with stupidity, then the anti-vaxxers will be the first on the chopping block.
  • Ridiculous. These people should just be canned.
  • In general, I'd agree with that. I think they deserve a little more latitude in this particular situation because this is following the years of abuse by Activision/Blizzard's management. But yeah, at a "normal" company, if employees did this, while I support their legal right to do so, I would also recommend employers exercise their legal right to fire anyone who makes such a selfish threat.
  • Because they are protesting unsafe work environments? Would that logic apply to any other workplace safety issue?
  • Uh, yes.
    And it does.
    Lots of work environments are dangerous.
    And regulated.
    As long as they meet OSHA regulation workers have exactly two choices: work or walk.
    Office work is in no way comparable to, say, a refinery or high steel work yet people knowingle run those much much higher risks daily.
  • How do you think OSHA regulations were created? Decades of protests such as this, where workers were put in unsafe conditions until the federal government acted, generally by creating or amending regulations.
  • Good for the employees of Activision. Vaccine mandates save lives and removing them creates unnecessary and completely avoidable hazards. There is no good reason, other than being so immunocompromised that you can't handle a vaccine, to not be vaccinated
  • If you are vaccinated, why do you care if anyone else is? If they get covid and die, than that is on them. My wife and daughter are nurses and the people getting treated for covid is not overwhelmingly non-vaccinated. And there are also those that recovered from covid and acquired natural immunity. Note, I am vaxxed but I could care less if others are not. Their body, their choice.
  • Rann Xeroxx is exactly right. In the case of COVID, unlike some other diseases and vaccinations, the vaccine does not stop the spread of omicron and the newer strains (so no longer contributes particularly to herd immunity) but it does still significantly protect the person who has been vaccinated from developing the most dangerous symptoms. It's therefore a perfect case for getting the vaccine if you want (and you're then relatively safe, regardless of what anyone else dose) and don't get it if you don't want. I think it's foolish not to get vaccinated (the data show that the benefits to getting vaccinated massively outweigh the virtually nonexistent risks with some very rare exceptions for people with pre-existing factors, which a person should review with his or her doctor), but the epidemiology for SARS-COV-2 with its current mutations is not like measles, mumps, or other viruses where herd immunity and protecting even the vaccinated from breakthrough infections is the primary point of broad vaccination requirements. So whether I think it's foolish or not to avoid getting vaccinated, I should not force my opinion on others, anymore than I would want those who think the vaccination is bad preventing me from getting vaccinated.
  • "the vaccine does not stop the spread of omicron and the newer strains" That is just not true. The mRNA vaccines reduce incubation periods even of Omicron, so they reduce the risk of transmission. It's the very high transmission rate that makes vaccine-induced herd immunity unlikely given vaccination rates that we see. The vaccine still reduces risks for people in more vaccinated communities. You'd love this to be a libertarian issue that you can wax philosophical about, but it's not.
  • Studies recently published show Omicron provides virtually zero 'natural immunity' even from future Omicron infections. It's a ridiculously slippery variant of the disease from an immune perspective.
  • David, this may be consistent with your point, not sure: the data I've seen (and it's admittedly tough to get really good, clear data at this early stage) is that those who have had COVID before, including the omicron strain, are less likely to to have severe complications from re-infection, including via omicron. To your point, complications from infection don't equate to transmissivity, only the hospitalization and fatality rates. So these may be compatible points. When you wrote "zero 'natural immunity'" were you referring to just transmissivity (which would make sense to me), or the danger once reinfected? If the second (danger to the reinfected), I think that runs counter to the data I've seen.
  • Here's the latest information on that claim, hopefully you can adjust your perceptions based on the facts: https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/omicron-is-trouncing-the-argumen...
  • David, thanks for the link and real data. Sorry for taking so long to respond. Work. Just saw this and read through that article. In reading it, I would say that while the author's conclusions don't say so, the data itself supports my conclusions. To pick one potent example of this from that article: "People ages 12 and up who were vaccinated and boosted amid the omicron wave were 3.5 times less likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 21 times less likely to die of COVID-19." In other words, getting the vaccination only cuts transmission rate to bit less than 1/3 of the transmission rate among the unvaccinated. At the same time, the vaccine dramatically reduced the risk of dying from the virus, reducing that risk of death to less than 5% the risk faced by those who contract the virus but have not been vaccinated. Definitely supports the value of a vaccination, but also the lack of value in a mandate. That is exactly what I've been saying, albeit without presenting any hard numbers on it: those who want to be safe can get vaccinated, which doesn't prevent them from contracting it, but greatly reduces the risk of complications (not to zero, but by over 95%). Further, a mandate isn't helpful to the vaccinated, because it doesn't stop the spread. It doesn't create herd immunity, which is the only justification for a mandate -- protecting those who want to take precautions from those who don't. There are some other problems with the author's conclusions that you're using that run counter to the data she's presenting. Not her fault, just ignorance on the immunology science. The study is checking for antibody titers, and pointing out that omicron exposure doesn't increase the tested antibody titers as much as a vaccine. Well of course not, because that's testing for the antibodies that the vaccine produces -- obviously omicron, which is a mutation, will not produce many of THOSE antibodies. It produces its own omicron variant antibodies. They are similar enough that the vaccine still helps with omicron, but they're not identical, hence the test results. That says nothing (in either direction) about the natural immunity granted from having been infected by omicron. Note this is not a flaw in the testing. It's the only thing they could test when omicron was still new. Also, for those who work in labs, they can only publish on lab studies, using things like serum concentrations as they did here, so that's what they do. Those are not the same people who study spread of a disease in a population. Different disciplines, microbiology (or immunology) vs. epidemiology, different publications. The applicable test would be statistical on epidemiological metrics -- among those who previously had omicron, over the several months following, what % of those people contracted omicron or another variant again, what % were hospitalized, and what % died. By now, we actually should be able to start getting enough long-term (several months) data an re-infection rates of prior omicron patients. Maybe that data is public, but I've not seen any good studies on that yet. Probably just still a little bit too soon. That could indeed show that omicron infection does not help. It seems to me that's unlikely based on the simple fact that the vaccine helps protect against severe illness from omicron. That means that omicron and the original strain are still similar enough that the body's immune response to one helps with the other. I suspect that if a patient had been infected with the omicron strain, as the new source for future SARS-COV-2 mutation variants, that would be as or more effective than the current the vaccine, which is based on the original strain. That's because omicron is genetically closer to likely future SARS-COV-2 strains, but I have no data to support that hypothesis. Regardless, a new vaccine based on a newer strain would likely be the most effective.
  • First off, the initial reply I made was to the assertion that Omicron provides protection against further COVID infections. The answer per the data is that for unvaccinated people it offers essentially zero immunity including against contracting it again. Furthermore it is, for the unvaccinated, every bit as dangerous as previous strains. For vaccinated it provides a mild boost to immunity going forward, but nothing tremendous and nothing one could really claim is better than not getting it at all given the other big factor. That other factor is the long term effects of getting covid, vaccinated or not. A mistake you and others keep making is calculating only based on hospitalization and death during the infection time period. Multiple studies are out now showing a vast array of longer term, possibly lifelong health impacts. For instance, here is the first study on the impact to cardiovascular health, an enormous one with data from 11 million people showing a major increase in all 20 cardiovascular diseases they chose as a sampling. While it was lessened for the vaccinated and was correlated with severity, every group whether vaccinated or not, symptomatic or not, vaccinated or not, faced significant and in some groups severe rises in cardiovascular events in the first year post-covid (longer term data will be gathered as we have more): https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/02/covid-raised-heart-risks-63-for-... And then there are neurological impacts on survivors, a study of people age 65 and higher found seriously raised rates of dementia and other cognitive impairments, again including vaccinated, unvaxxed, symptomatic and asymptomatic: https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/covid-ups-risks-of-dementia-cogn... We have a wide range of other studies going on, for instance we know certain areas of the brain seem to shrink post-COVID, and that it attacks virtually all organs as well as the nervous system and brain. What we are finding out is likely only the tip of the iceberg in terms of it's effect on human health over time. These are not an indicator that we should move to a world of saying that people should be forced into positions of accepting risks they are not comfortable with. This looks like it's going to have a devastating impact on individual health and the global healthcare infrastructure over time when you consider the long term effects we already know of, to say nothing of the ones we will find out about. Given that the US was so poor at protecting our children that 58% of them got COVID just over the past winter, the legacy we are leaving them is one of significant physical and mental infirmities at a rate not seen in recorded history. https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/cdc-estimates-140-million-americ...
  • "My wife and daughter are nurses and the people getting treated for covid is not overwhelmingly non-vaccinated." That doesn't mean the vaccine is ineffective. It means 1) vaccinated people are still at risk and 2) the rate of vaccination among people at high risk of hospitalization is high. This is an application of Simpson's rule, which is a fancy name for the fact that you have to divide the numbers by their respective populations (vaccinated and unvaccinated) to get an accurate picture. Hospitalization rates for unvaccinated people are much higher. The fact that vaccinated people are still at risk of infection and hospitalization, albeit at lower rates, means this is not a libertarian issue. No vaccine is perfect, and an increased community risk affects vaccinated and nonvaccinated alike. The increased risk comes from the unvaccinated.
  • Andrew, I'm not sure what you mean by "libertarian issue," but I think you mean that because lives are on the line, this is not a place to apply freedom of choice. Is that right? I generally agree with the facts you've presented in this post: the statistical data is that the vast majority of those hospitalized are non-vaccinated, especially when normalizing for the % of the population that has already been vaccinated (this does run counter to the personal experience of Rann Xeroxx's wife and daughter) and that ratio is even further skewed for death rates. This means that while the vaccine doesn't provide great protection against infection since omicron, it does provide good protection against severe complications. That is the critical distinction that removes the justification for requiring others get vaccinated. You wrote, "an increased community risk affects vaccinated and nonvaccinated alike." That's true. But unlike, say, mumps and measles vaccines, which decrease community risk (as does the flu shot), there is little evidence that COVID vaccines do this any longer, since the emergence of omicron. Omicron infects and reinfects those who have been vaccinated. Where MMR vaccines are not 100% effective, the break-through infections generally reflect a failure of the vaccine to to have generated an immune response in the recipient, and if they contract mumps or measles in spite of the vaccination, the effect is generally just as bad as if they had not been vaccinated -- it's a much more binary result of sick vs. not sick (according to the CDC, 94% of mumps infections are among the vaccinated, which are, in most cases, just as severe as among the unvaccinated, but the total # of infections have dropped by more than 99%, because of herd immunity). For COVID, the situation is VERY different: even those who had a full immune response are still eligible to contract COVID again, just with reduced severity. That is why the reasoning that could be used to mandate MMR vaccines doesn't apply to COVID vaccines. If I don't want to get mumps, I need everyone to be vaccinated. If I don't want to get COVID, well, there's nothing I can do about it (other than staying home), but I can protect myself against severe infection by getting vaccinated. Whether you get vaccinated or not has negligible impact on me. Therefore, and this is my only point (I'm certainly not trying to discourage people from getting vaccinated -- everyone should), the Activision Blizzard employees are being selfish and bad team members in demanding their co-workers get this particular medical procedure. I don't even really object to a private company choosing to require vaccinations for its team. I may question their logic, but I would probably support their right to do so (specifics could affect this). My criticism is directed at the selfishness of those employees. This discussion on the merit of COVID vaccine mandates is purely a side point to prove the lack of merit in the Activision Blizzard employees' demand. Unless there is virtually no argument (which I think we can all agree there is, even if we reach different conclusions at the end), then all of us as good employees and respectful human beings should follow a "don't apply my preferences to my co-workers" mindset, because we can all appreciate that we wouldn't want to be forced to have some medical procedure that we didn't want.
  • 1) The data shows those who are fully vaccinated and get omicron have the strongest resistance. I linked that study above. The unvaccinated gain virtually zero protection from an omicron infection, which is very bad since that is the largest source of infections since the pandemic began. 2) Omicron exists due to a lack of vaccination providing ample hosts for the previous strains to mutate in. In a world where vaccination is strongly incentivized it likely never happens, and that is the lesson we need to take from it given that there are new omicron specific vaccines on the horizon.
  • Allowing remote work is pretty standard these days. Activision Blizzard needs to keep up with the rest of the industry (and perhaps society at large). As for vaccine mandates, it's not like they have many unvaccinated employees who cannot work remotely.
  • Remote is a good perk but if you walk out of any job, you should get fired. If you don't like the working conditions, don't get mad, just put in your two week notice like an adult, have a nice good bye to all your co-workers, and find a job that meets your needs. Too many snowflakes out there that think the world revolve around them.
  • Nah, most worker protections we have today are because of general strikes. Walking out of a job in protest is a time-tested way to improve working conditions.
  • Or get fired.
    Not all walkouts are legal under labor law.
  • They never were legal until a protection was created. But you don't make change without them. This is an obvious safety issue, it'll take public pressure to get it protected. You don't get that without walkouts.
  • "Too many snowflakes out there that think the world revolve around them." Tell that to the snowflakes who chafe under a vaccine mandate that could save lives.
  • Man, things have happened there that are bad, from the top down. But this bunch of people sure are a sweet bundle to deal with. Does MS know what it's getting into?
  • Yup.
    IP alone is worth the cash.
    Given MS practices and the publicly reported attitude of some of the staff, I expect everybody gets a year's grace. After that it'll be open season and 20% gets canned.
    They'll net $100B out of Activision if they have to fire everybody and farm out all the games to support studios. Those folks had better do their homework.
  • MS ended stack ranking years ago, they don't have the mandatory fire line anymore.
  • Officially.
    They just "happen" to reorganize annually and certain jobs go away...
    (Kinder gentler ruthlessness.)
    They just announced another reorg this week. First thing the addressed: no job losses this thime.
  • Microsoft reorgs about every 18 months. I worked there for a decade and a half. They rarely lead to job losses, but the statement you refer to is mostly targeted towards new hires not used to the process. None of that has to do with stack ranking though. Reorgs of course can eliminate positions but in that situation the position is being evaluated, not the individual who still has an opportunity to move internally. In stack ranking, someone deemed a low performer has no ability to move until they have met performance goals, and if they are let go their position will be backfilled since it still exists.
  • Look man I've been vaccinated boosted had COVID have known tons of people that have had COVID get over it it's not a big deal COVID is only a big deal if you are already unhealthy are already on your way out. These young people working at these companies man or ridiculous entitled brats every single one of them. Grow up.
  • Not all of us belong to a death cult.
  • Removing vaccine mandates is plain stupid. If there are workers who don't have a legitimate reason not to get a vaccine, they should work from home, not the rest of us with working brains. All kinds of institutions in the US have had vaccine mandates for decades. This is nothing new. It's just whiny idiots who believe everything they read on the internet, but somehow we're the ones who are brainwashed.
  • If you are vaccinated, then you are protected, right? You actually think the mRNA vaccine works... got your third or forth booster. You are all set. You can just sit there and watch all those stupid anti-vaxx people drop. Why do you care so much about what other people do with their bodies?
  • Because no vaccine is perfect, and vaccinated people may have pre-existing conditions or live with someone like that who are at high risk, and because non-vaccinated people increase the risks for everyone. This isn't a libertarian issue because if you get sick, even if I am vaccinated you increase the risk for me and others.
  • Oh Andrew you sad Vaccine Hitler. Let humans make their own choices on whether they want to be injected with trial drugs. Working age people have very little chance of dying for COVID and should just go back to work if that’s what their employers wish.
  • ...because 'death' is the only metric that matters and the only possible negative impact of COVID....
  • I don't think you're brainwashed, Andrew. I think it's fine and a good thing that people reach different conclusions even based on the same facts. That's a natural result from people having different priorities. And many of the greatest ideas and solutions emerge from the very debates that result. Disagreements are good and helpful, as long as they're respectful. The problem here is that these employees are effectively saying, "Screw our coworkers who think differently from us. Make them be like us." They are not allowing for the very disagreements that make for this interesting discussion. Worse, they are seeking to force physical action against their co-workers. In any normal situation, I would strongly support their being fired for their lack of respect for their co-workers. You simply can't have a cohesive team when part of the team is trying to force other parts to change. I don't necessarily support a firing here because of the history of abusive management by Activision Blizzard. MAYBE the employees are just still reacting and acting out like an abuse victim. One of the reasons why leaders should always treat their people well, to avoid these situations where people feel the need to run to such extremes.
  • Your position is perfectly ridiculous, Colin. "The problem here is that these employees are effectively saying, "Screw our coworkers who think differently from us. Make them be like us."" Do you say that about any other safety precautions in any other work context ever? How does this suddenly become an issue of imposing ideas on others of its a virus that does the killing? You think you have sophisticated reasoning, but you don't. It's empty words.
  • If this was a perfect vaccine and/or if this was something more akin to smallpox, I would agree with you. However, neither of those are true. And who gets to count as being vaccinated? Everyone with the first two shots? Only those with the first two plus a booster? Only those with two boosters? Six boosters? Ten? What about those who already contacted it? The vaccine doesn't do anything for them their own immune system doesn't do better by that point. With the very nature of this illness, you will always have a moving target. It is the nature of a virus.
  • I've believe I've decisively addressed the COVID-specific parts of this in other responses here (posted since your last round of responses to me), so I won't revisit those here. Regarding other safety precautions, I would need to distinguish my personal opinions from what's supported under the law. I support employees' petitioning their employer with grievances. Their chief recourse of course being to quit and take another job elsewhere. That's where competition for employees among employers helps elevate labor standards as the company with poor conditions will have a hard time attracting good employees, become uncompetitive in the marketplace, and go out of business (or improve its conditions to survive). While I also support the LEGAL right to make any legal demand you want, I think it's atrocious behavior to demand behavior changes by your co-workers. It's such a poisonous thing to do to team morale, that I think it should result in immediate dismissal, but in this particular case, I would cut the employees a bit of slack due to their history of bad treatment by Activision Blizzard. Asking for a safety rail so people don't fall into a gears at a factory is very different from demanding everyone else you work with have changes made to their bodies. Pregnancy can disrupt work, so should workers demand any women on their team be on the pill to work there? Hair loss can lead to shiny distracting heads and in some cases the appearance to customers of a less vigorous sales force, so should workers demand male co-workers take hair meds prophylactically or get a transplant or hair piece if they start losing their hair? The flu causes millions of lost hours of work every year and even results in many deaths, so should the flu shot be required?
  • Personal choice is good but so is living with the consequences. The thing is, covid has become an endemic part of the environment and we have to live with it. Which we can because, unlike 2020 we have actual *treatments* not just vaccines so the whole vaxx--no vaxx debate is meaningless. A fake dichotomy. You can be unvaxxed and still go back out into the world and live. Want to mask, want to distance, fine. I do.in But we know a lot more now about the disease than in 2020. We know its infection rate. We know it's *mortality* rate. We know it is more like influenza than ebola. We know RNA vaccines aren't absolute protection but they work better than they work. Above all we know we have to learn to live with the disease because it isn't going away and zero covid is a pipe dream, as China is discovering. We live with the flu, we can live with covid. People should protect themselves but they can't expect others to sacrifice to cater to their choices. They have to take care of their own needs. As for tbe OP, while Activision has passed the decision down to the individual units, the choice to return work will happen. Might as well get on with it. If not now, when?
  • "Which we can because, unlike 2020 we have actual *treatments* not just vaccines so the whole vaxx--no vaxx debate is meaningless. A fake dichotomy." That's completely wrong. The people dying are still overwhelmingly unvaccinated, but vaccinated people at higher risk for complications can still die. That means any increase in infection risk affects not just the unvaccinated but the vaccinated as well. This is NOT and never has been a libertarian issue because of the nature of infectious diseases.
  • I'm trying to be reasonable here but setting a policy for everybody based on outliers is not reasonable under any circumstances. If you are at extreme risk, get a medical waiver. Young healthy people are not under the same risks so they do not nedd one-size-futs all treatment.
    As I said above: choices exist.
    Use them.
  • Andrew, I would concede the point that there is a slight increased risk to the vaccinated by a greater spread rate among the unvaccinated, but it's become a minor factor since omicron has become the dominant strain. Omicron infects the vaccinated at a high enough rate that it spreads rapidly even among communities with near total vaccination. That pattern seems to continue with BA.2. Your arguments appear to be based on pre-omicron variants of SARS-COV-2 and the original vaccine. I'm not saying I would necessarily support a mandate even pre-omicron or for a new vaccine that is more effective at preventing infection by current strains (I might, not sure, I always think the bar should be very high for any form of mandate), but I could support your reasoning.
  • We have effective vaccine mandates for a lot of lesser diseases than COVID, I'm fine with a soft mandate for an Omicron specific vaccine. A soft mandate does not force people to get it, but restricts them from common services and venues without it. In some EU nations, Portugal for instance, to go into a bar or club your choices are to either have a EU vaccine digital certificate, or take a rapid covid test the day you intend to go there. It's not perfect, but it does not block unvaccinated from doing anything, it just forces them to protect public health when they do so. The inconvenience is why some countries like Portugal have vaccination levels over 90%. And I'm okay with that. If some people in the US truly have personal beliefs that do not permit vaccinations then they don't need to get them. But they must respect the rest of the public enough to at least get tested before going to restaurants, bars, concerts, and so on.
  • Please have some compassion for the immunocompromised. You and everyone you know might not be but millions are and want to keep working. Hopefully employers can work something out for them and their families.
  • Sure.
    Case by case. Just like any other disease/condition.
    But these folks are arguing for a blanket eternal covid regime.
    Not.Rational.
  • "Case by case" is the argument from someone who doesn't understand the basic fact that viruses are contagious. Not rational. No vaccine is perfect, and any increase in the riskiness of the environment affects both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Not equally, but vaccinated people and their families are affected. This is NOT a libertarian issue and never will be.
  • Not universally contagious.
    Not universally dangerous.
    It's not 2020 when we knew nothing.
    Now we do.
    We know who is at risk and when and who isn't.
  • This right here.
  • This is the story here. Ignorant, childish people don't care about those at high risk, so they don't get vaccinated. Put aside those who believe anything they read on the internet (whose stupidity needs to be reigned in for the safety of others). It's not only factually incorrect, it's