Microsoft promises to recognize Activision Blizzard unions

Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have reached a neutrality agreement that promises to make it easier to organize workers at Activision Blizzard, the games studio that Microsoft plans to acquire for $68.7 billion.

Quality assurance staff at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software voted to unionize last month, the culmination of months of action – including a five-week strike in January over the ruling. of Activision to lay off 12 QA testers – which resulted in the first union at a major US video game publisher. Although he initially refused to voluntarily recognize the CWA-backed union, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick would have changed tack in an email to staff last week.

Microsoft announced plans to buy Activision Blizzard, which is responsible for games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, in January, raising the prospect of a formal employee union operating within Microsoft.

Although Microsoft has previously indicated that this would not prevent the labor unions of Activison Blizzard, the five-point agreement announced by the CWA and Microsoft Monday formalizes its position.

The agreement promises a “neutral approach” to organizing employees without interference from Microsoft, and ensuring that employees can communicate freely with co-workers and union organizers about organizing. The agreement will become effective 60 days after the closing of the planned acquisition, the CWA said.

The neutrality agreement will give Activision workers the opportunity “to exercise their democratic rights to organize and bargain collectively,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in a statement. “Microsoft’s binding commitments will give employees a seat at the table and ensure that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard benefits company workers and the broader video game labor market,” he said. .

Microsoft President and Vice President Brad Smith welcomed the agreement with the CWA in a statement, saying, “We view the partnership today as an avenue to innovate and grow together.”

In a Microsoft blog post last week, Smith pledged to respect attempts to unionize within the company, a move described by an academic as a “bold and welcome commitment” in a historically resistant tech industry. work organization. Microsoft’s approach differs from that of other big tech companies that have taken a more combative stance toward organizing efforts among their workforces, including Apple and Amazon.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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