Earlier this month, Microsoft broke with the Big Tech convention by saying it was willing to work with employee unions, something many of its rivals have resisted. Building on that groundbreaking announcement, Microsoft has revealed a collaboration with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Microsoft and the CWA are entering a trail-blazing labor neutrality agreement that will also apply to Activision Blizzard once Microsoft closes its acquisition of the company. The goal is to build on the four principles Microsoft detailed earlier this month.
Both the CWA and Microsoft say the aim of the agreement is to give workers at Microsoft and Activision Blizzard freedom and fairness in union representation.
“This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organize and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry,” says CWA President Chris Shelton.
“Microsoft’s binding commitments will give employees a seat at the table and ensure that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard benefits the company’s workers and the broader video game labor market. The agreement addresses CWA’s previous concerns regarding the acquisition, and, as a result, we support its approval and look forward to working collaboratively with Microsoft after this deal closes.”
There are five provisions the agreement is built on:
- Microsoft will take a neutral approach when employees covered by the agreement express interest in joining a union.
- Covered employees will be able to easily exercise their right to communicate with other employees and union representatives about union membership in a way that encourages information sharing and avoids business disruptions.
- Employees will have access to an innovative technology-supported and streamlined process for choosing whether to join a union.
- Employees can maintain confidentiality and privacy of that choice if they wish.
- If a disagreement arises between the CWA and Microsoft under the agreement, the two organizations will work together promptly to reach an agreement and will turn to an expedited arbitration process if they cannot.
“Earlier this month we announced a set of principles that will guide our approach to labor organizations, and the Activision Blizzard acquisition is our first opportunity to put these principles into practice,” adds Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith. “We appreciate CWA’s collaboration in reaching this agreement, and we see today’s partnership as an avenue to innovate and grow together.”
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