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Today's announcement that European Union regulators have approved Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is welcome news.
In the United States, this merger represents an opportunity for the Federal Trade Commission to transform the video game and technology labor market by providing a clear path to collective bargaining for almost 10,000 workers.
Last year, after Microsoft announced its Principles on Employee Organizing and Engagement with Labor Organizations, CWA and Microsoft reached agreement on a ground-breaking, legally-binding labor neutrality agreement. The agreement, which will apply to the Activision Blizzard workforce once Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of the company is complete, committed Microsoft to a neutral approach when employees express interest in joining a union, with a free and fair process for voluntary recognition of the union.
In December, workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax studio announced that they were organizing with CWA. Microsoft once again acted in accordance with its stated principles and agreed to a process that enabled the workers to freely and fairly decide if they wanted to form a union without management interference. In early January, a neutral arbitrator reviewed the results and certified that the ZeniMax workers had voted to be represented by CWA.
Collective bargaining agreements play a critical role in counterbalancing employer market power. Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan has championed antitrust policies that protect workers interests. Under her leadership, the FTC's intention to examine labor market impacts of mergers is well known, creating a regulatory environment that facilitated CWA's unprecedented labor neutrality agreement with Microsoft.
We are optimistic that the commitments Microsoft has made to the European Commission regarding consumer access to video games, which address similar concerns the FTC has raised about the transaction, will chart a path for a settlement in the U.S.
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields.