Neutrality for Microsoft in the unionization of Activision Blizzard, even though the tech giant is in the process of buying the video game company.
On Monday, officials at Microsoft announced the company has signed a labor neutrality agreement with Communication Workers of America, the tech-sector union that is supporting organization efforts among Activision Blizzard employees.
The agreement is unusual in tech, but maybe not for Microsoft, which has stood apart by saying they support potential unions in their workforce. Under the agreement, Microsoft will “take a neutral approach” to employees who express interest in joining a union and will allow employees to communicate openly about unionizing, the company said in a joint press release with CWA.
“Recent unionization campaigns across the country — including in the tech sector — have led us to conclude that inevitably these issues will touch on more businesses, potentially including our own,” wrote Microsoft president Brad Smith in a blog post. “Our employees will never need to organize to have a dialogue with Microsoft’s leaders. But we also recognize the workplace is changing.”
So far, unionization efforts inside Activision Blizzard have been contentious, as have similar efforts in other tech names like Amazon and Apple. They began last month when a group of quality assurance employees at Raven Software, a gaming studio operating under Activision Blizzard, voted to form a union after waves of layoffs and allegations of illegal working conditions. Activision Blizzard did not consent to negotiate with CWA and the Raven union until Friday, June 10th.
Microsoft’s neutrality is going to be, ironically, a large advantage for the union side of the negotiations. The $69 billion deal to purchase the video game company is expected to take until next year to close, and Activision Blizzard is under pressure to make sure the company is not only performing to its utmost, but to make sure it’s looking good in the news. And labor disputes never look good for the company.
Photo: FellowNeko / Shutterstock