Microsoft said Monday it would respect the rights of Activision Blizzard workers to join a union, and would enter into a so-called labor neutrality agreement with major media union Communications Workers of America, which has been helping video game workers organize, The Washington Post reported.
According to The Washington Post, if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved, the new labor agreement will take effect for the video game giant 60 days after the deal is finalized.
The Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this month, Microsoft unveiled a set of principles aimed at demonstrating its willingness to work with unions. The company said it wouldn’t discourage employees from using their legal right to form and join unions and wouldn’t try to complicate the process of unionization for its employees.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the principles marked Microsoft’s latest attempt to carve out a position distinct from other technology companies on a sensitive subject in the industry. U.S. tech companies have long avoided unions, and some have tried to discourage employees from joining them. Microsoft reported a global workforce of more than 180,000 last year. None are currently unionized in the U.S.
The New York Times reported: A group of nearly 30 employees at one of Activision’s studios voted to unionize through an N.L.R.B. election in May despite Activision’s opposition to holding the election. But completing such a process can be time consuming, with unions and employers sometimes spending months or even years litigating the results.
According to The New York Times, through the agreement, workers will have access to an expedited process for unionizing, overseen by a neutral third party, in which they will indicate their support for a union either by signing cards or confidentially through an electronic platform.
Chris Shelton, the president of the Communications Workers unions, said in an interview, “This process does give us and Microsoft a way to do this quote unquote election without spending the time, the effort and the controversy that goes along with an N.L.R.B. election.”
Personally, I’m happy to see that Microsoft is willing to work with unions. That’s a huge change from Activision Blizzard King, where the high-ups have been fighting against unionization. The Wisconsin workers in Raven Software were able to unionize – but not before Activision engaged in union-busting attempts. Raven contractors worked on franchises like Activision’s Call of Duty games.
It would be wonderful if the Activision Blizzard King workers, who have been struggling to get the company to accept their unionization efforts, can easily join a union after the Microsoft acquisition. If so, this would set a huge precedent for workers at other gaming companies.