With Microsoft on the cusp of buying out all of Activision-Blizzard, there’s been plenty of governmental scrutiny and a healthy dose of concern for workers in relation to what happens to recent unionization progress and whether Microsoft will play ball with organized game devs. However, a blog post from Microsoft has outlined the company’s stance: It will work with unions and not attempt to stop workers who want to organize from doing so.
The blog makes some bold promises, stating that Microsoft has an open door leadership policy while also understanding that employees may want to organize regardless. In that case, the post notes that Microsoft is “committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal,” and that the company won’t impede workers’ decision to organize.
“We respect this right and do not believe that our employees or the company’s other stakeholders benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union. […] For several decades, Microsoft has collaborated closely with works councils across Europe, as well as several unions globally. We recognize that Microsoft’s continued leadership and success will require that we continue to learn and adapt to a changing environment for labor relations in the years ahead.”
These statements fly directly in the face of ActiBlizz’s own actions, which has seen the studio try its hardest to bust the formation of a union by QA workers at Raven Software – an effort that ultimately failed.
Of course, this blog post still basically stands as a long and well-written series of promises, and workers still will likely want to see these words put into action. A statement from Communications Workers of America secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens regarded the announcement as “encouraging and unique among the major tech companies,” but also notes “these principles must be put into action and incorporated into Microsoft’s day-to-day operations and its expectations for its contractors.”
It’s a song and dance that Activision-Blizzard employees have heard before, but for unionized employees worried about what would happen to them once Microsoft subsumes the game developer, there’s very likely reason to be optimistic, even if a little bit.