Microsoft will remain neutral on Activision Blizzard unions

Microsoft has pledged to remain neutral should employees of Activision Blizzard wish to unionise.
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Microsoft has pledged to remain neutral should any worker of Activision Blizzard want to unionise following the upcoming company acquisition. Per a deal struck between Microsoft and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and reported by the New York Times, Microsoft has agreed to ease the union transition for all employees, who will no longer have to petition the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to form a union.

This comes in the wake of developer Raven Software successfully forming the first union at Activision Blizzard by going through this rigorous process. When Activision Blizzard management refused to recognise the union voluntarily, workers were forced to petition the NLRB – a vote that was ultimately successful, although it was time consuming.

It appears Microsoft doesn’t wish for employees to go through these same challenges, with the neutrality arrangement allowing workers to unionise easily, should there be a desire.

To form a union, all employees will need to do is engage a third party overseer, and indicate their support for a union by signing cards physically or digitally, per the New York Times.

Read: Raven Software QA workers successfully vote to unionise

‘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 NLRB election,’ Chris Shelton, Communications Workers union president said.

Standing in solidarity with workers, Microsoft president Brad Smith enthused about the agreement, and the freedom it would offer workers who required the negotiation power of a union.

‘This is a great opportunity for us to work with Chris and the CWA and to learn and innovate,’ Smith said. ‘We will respect the fact that our employees are capable of making decisions for themselves and they have a right to do that.’

According to The New York Times, Microsoft is looking to the future with this arrangement, in the hopes it can build strong relationships with workers coming in from Activision Blizzard. It’s a positive sign of change – and one that could ease the transition as Microsoft prepares to acquire Activision Blizzard and its embattled employees.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.