In a move that may come as a surprise, Microsoft has said it will start to work with unions in the United States. The decision is part of an effort to improve work conditions in the tech sector, which are often criticized. Microsoft itself has faced recent accusations of poor work conditions and workplace practices.
In a blog post, Microsoft is positioning itself as an outlier in the Big Tech industry. Many of its rivals – most notably Amazon – have tried to squash unionization. Microsoft is instead willing to embrace unions based on four key principles that it wants to operate by.
The statement highlights those principles, which will create an open relationship with unions:
- “We believe in the importance of listening to our employees' concerns. Our leaders have an open door policy, and we invest in listening systems and employee resource groups that constantly help us understand better both what is working and where we need to improve. But we recognize that there may be times when some employees in some countries may wish to form or join a union.
- We recognize that employees have a legal right to choose whether to form or join a union. We respect this right and do not believe that our employees or the company's other stakeholders benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union.
- We are committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal. In many instances, employee unionization proposals may open an opportunity for Microsoft to work with an existing union on agreed upon processes for employees to exercise their rights through a private agreement. We are committed to collaborative approaches that will make it simpler, rather than more difficult, for our employees to make informed decisions and to exercise their legal right to choose whether to form or join a union.
- Building on our global labor experiences, we are dedicated to maintaining a close relationship and shared partnership with all our employees, including those represented by a union. For several decades, Microsoft has collaborated closely with works councils across Europe, as well as several unions globally. We recognize that Microsoft's continued leadership and success will require that we continue to learn and adapt to a changing environment for labor relations in the years ahead.”
Microsoft is taking a major step with this move. However, the company's president Brad Smith said employees really do not need to organize into a union to be able to reach Microsoft leaders and make effective changes.
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