Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America have entered into a “labor neutrality agreement”. CWA represents Game Workers Alliance, the union representing members of Raven Software that recently voted to unionize. Activision Blizzard, which is awaiting approval of a deal by Microsoft to acquire the company, released a statement from CEO Bobby Kotick last week saying it will begin “good faith” negotiations on a contract with GWA that they're legally obligated to do. This agreement, as well as a new blog on unionization shared by Microsoft, clarify some of what we might be able to expect as things move forward on all fronts.
CWA announced the labor agreement with Microsoft and explicitly stated that the agreement will apply to Activision Blizzard workers 60 days after a deal closes if the acquisition gains final approval. What a neutral labor agreement means is that there will be a declaration of mutual respect and Microsoft will not stand in the way of any employee that expresses interest in joining a union. Microsoft had said before that it would honor Activision Blizzard employees' decisions on unionization.
We are proud to announce that we have entered a ground-breaking labor neutrality agreement with @Microsoft!The agreement will apply to Activision Blizzard workers if Microsoft's planned acquisition is approved.https://t.co/v3zY2eYVZH— CWA (@CWAUnion) June 13, 2022
Employees represented by any union will also have access to information and membership in a more open way, with confidentiality and privacy. The terms, according to a press release on the agreement, also include a deal between the CWA and Microsoft that should there be any sort of dispute, the two organizations agree to work together and use an expedited arbitration process if they can't come to an agreement on that case on their own.
This comes after Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith also shared an official blog this month called "Microsoft adopts principles for employee organizing and engagement with labor organizations”. The official line here is that employees have a right to form and join a union, and Microsoft is officially recognizing this. However, they’re also emphasizing that:
“Our employees will never need to organize to have a dialogue with Microsoft’s leaders.
But we also recognize the workplace is changing. That’s why we are sharing principles to guide our approach with labor organizations.” Those principles include open communication and not standing in the way.
For more, you can read the press release with the full description of the agreement between the CWA and Microsoft.