Microsoft Pledges Neutrality in Union Campaigns at Activision

Microsoft and the Communication Workers of America union announced Monday an agreement that would make it easier for employees to unionize in video game maker Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft is acquiring for $ 70 billion.

Under the deal, which appears to be the first of its kind in the technology industry, Microsoft agreed to remain neutral if any of the U.S. employees eligible for activation wanted to unionize and employees would no longer have to apply to the National Labor Relations Board for election. . The company has about 7,000 employees in the United States, most of whom will be eligible for unionization under this arrangement.

A group of about 30 employees at one of Activision’s studios voted to form a union despite Activision’s opposition to holding elections by the NLRB in May. But such a process can take time to complete, with unions and employers sometimes spending months or even years suing the results.

By agreement, workers will have access to a quick process to form a union, overseen by a neutral third party, in which they will sign a card or secretly demonstrate their support for the union through an electronic platform.

“This process allows us and Microsoft to conduct these quote elections without spending time, effort and controversy over the NLRB election,” Chris Shelton, president of the Communication Workers’ Union, said in an interview. .

The union said the neutrality agreement had resolved its distrust concerns with the acquisition, and that it now backed the deal, which Microsoft said would close by the end of June.

Mr. Brad Smith, president of Shelton and Microsoft, suggested that the deal could pave the way for broader integration across the company and the industry. “This is a great opportunity for us to work with Chris and CWA and learn and innovate,” said Mr. Smith said in an interview. Microsoft has said it is ready to “build” the deal in the future, but has not commented specifically on whether the company plans to extend the terms to other gaming workers.

Microsoft indicated that under the agreement, it would stay away from aggressive anti-union campaigns if other activists wanted to form unions. Mr. Smith said in an interview. “We will respect the fact that our employees are capable of making decisions for themselves and they have the right to do so.”

Faced with their own union campaigns, companies such as Amazon and Starbucks have held frequent mandatory meetings with employees, arguing that the union could make them worse.

The Labor Board has filed lawsuits against Amazon, alleging that workers were threatened with losing benefits if they joined the union, and that Starbucks fired workers who wanted to form a union and if they did not choose to join the union. Promised workers benefits effectively. . Both companies have denied the allegations. In a recent lawsuit filed by the NLRB in Arizona, a federal judge rejected a request for a restraining order to reinstate pro-union workers whom the Labor Board said were illegally evicted by Starbucks.

The agreement between Microsoft and the union will also protect workers’ right to communicate between themselves and union officials about the union campaign – which many employers want to discourage – and stipulate that differences between the company and the union will be resolved “immediately”. Arbitration process. “NLRB complaints can take months or years to resolve.

When their blockbuster deals were announced by Microsoft and Activision in January, game makers were tense as they faced allegations that senior executives ignored sexual harassment and discrimination. These concerns have fueled planning among Activision employees, including workers at its Raven software studio in Wisconsin, which has developed games into popular franchises such as Call of Duty.

After about 30 quality assurances, or groups of QAs, workers announced they wanted to unionize, Activision wanted to persuade the Federal Labor Board that their election should not go ahead. Sports activists have accused Activision of using union-busting tactics, such as increasing the salaries of non-Raven QA workers and splitting QA workers by embedding them in Raven Studios.

Activision maintained that while there had been some changes in this vein since the union campaign was announced, a sweeping change in approach was already underway – for example, its move to change the status of hundreds of temporary and casual workers into permanent full-time employees. In the fall.

In early March, the union signed a letter asking federal regulators to verify the acquisition. “A potential takeover by Microsoft threatens to further undermine workers’ rights and suppress wages,” the letter said.

Microsoft has since tried to strike a conciliatory tone. He said he would not voluntarily stop activism in the union before the formal election, which Activision did not. After Raven QA workers voted to form the first union on the North American game publisher in late May, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming, told employees they would recognize the Raven union once the deal between the two companies was closed, gaming news site Kotaku quoted a video from an employee town hall. Reported the tank.

Activision said on Friday it was starting contract talks with the new union’s Raven workers. The company’s Chief Executive Bobby Kotik said in a statement, “We are taking this important step to find out their ideas and insights with our 27 representative employees and CWA on how we can better serve our employees, players and other stakeholders. Have decided. “

In a blog post this month that appears to preview the deal, Mr. Smith announced a set of principles to guide Microsoft’s response to labor planning, an indication that it is taking a more open approach to the company’s businesses.

He noted that while working in Europe, he had observed Microsoft’s successful “collaborative experiences with works councils and unions” and said that the company in the United States would adopt a “collaborative approach” that would make it easier for our employees to make informed decisions. And to exercise their legal right to choose whether to form a union or join it. “

In the interview, Mr. Smith called the neutrality agreement “our first opportunity to implement those principles.”

American Communication Workers, which represents employees in companies such as AT&T Mobility, Verizon and The New York Times, has sought to mobilize tech industry workers in recent years. It has started organizing retail workers at Apple stores and has helped workers on Google form so-called minority unions, allowing them to work together on workplace issues without winning union elections.

Kansas City, Mo. About a dozen retail employees at Google Fiber Stores, who are formally employed by a Google contractor, recently voted to join the union.

Callen Browning Contribution Report.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.