Completion of Microsoft/Activision Merger Will Transform the Video Game and Technology Labor Market
Today’s announcement that Microsoft has completed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard represents a milestone in the effort to improve working conditions in the video game industry. Under the terms of a ground-breaking, legally-binding labor neutrality agreement, Microsoft will remain neutral when Activision Blizzard employees express interest in joining a union, providing a clear path to collective bargaining for almost 10,000 workers.
“It is a new day for workers at Activision Blizzard,” said Communications Workers of America President Claude Cummings Jr. “Over two years ago, workers at Activision Blizzard’s studios captured the country’s attention through walkouts and other protests over discrimination, sexual harassment, pay inequity, and other issues they were facing on the job. Their efforts to form unions were met with illegal retaliation and attempts to delay and block union elections. Now these workers are free to join our union through a fair process, without interference from management. Microsoft’s high-road approach should be the norm across the industry.”
The provisions of the neutrality agreement, which goes into full effect 60 days after the close of the acquisition, are:
- 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 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.
Although the neutrality agreement applies to the Activision Blizzard workforce, in December, when workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax studio announced that they were organizing with CWA, Microsoft acted in accordance with its stated principles and agreed to a similar process. In early January, a neutral arbitrator reviewed the results and certified that the ZeniMax workers had voted to be represented by CWA.
“Every Activision Blizzard worker should take advantage of this opportunity to have a legally-protected voice,” said CWA Local 6215 member Dylan Burton, a Quality Assurance Tester at id Software, ZeniMax, in Dallas, Tex. “Management may come and go but a union contract means that no matter who is in charge, the standards are the same and they have to treat you with respect. During our union organizing campaign, Microsoft was true to its word. We were able to decide for ourselves, and no one faced any retaliation for supporting the union.”
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard workers can visit cwa.org/abk for more information on the process for forming a union at their studios.