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Microsoft signs a neutrality agreement with labor union

A pretty big move for labor unions at major studios

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Microsoft and the Communication Workers of America have entered into a labor neutrality agreement ahead of the Activision Blizzard deal’s closure. The pact would, once the deal has gone through, ensure Microsoft takes a neutral approach should employees at Activision Blizzard consider forming a union.

The labor neutrality agreement will take effect 60 days after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard closes. In a press release from the CWA, it says the agreement reflects a belief by both organizations that “enabling workers to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation will benefit Microsoft and its employees.”

Five basic provisions of the agreement will apply to Activision Blizzard employees, once the acquisition by Microsoft is sealed. They include Microsoft taking a neutral approach when employees covered by the agreement express interest in joining a union, maintaining confidentiality and privacy of their choice if they wish, and bounds for settling disagreements between the CWA and Microsoft.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r72GP1PIZa0

Unions grow in games

This agreement arrives just after Raven Software QA workers voted to unionize last month. Workers at Raven Software had previously been on strike over sudden layoffs at the company, and have now become one of the first unions at a major games studio.

Activision Blizzard announced last week it would enter bargaining with the union, and now Microsoft is putting it into writing, should the deal with Activision Blizzard close. It echoes previous statements of Microsoft’s that it would respect the outcome of the union vote.

As more workers begin to assess unionizing, this agreement could be huge. It essentially paves the road for other Activision Blizzard employees to collectively bargain in the future.

The CWA has now also said this agreement addresses its previous concerns about the Activision Blizzard-Microsoft deal. The labor organization is now supporting the acquisition’s approval.


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Eric Van Allen
Senior Editor - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.