The $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is now complete and while it has its supporters and its critics, one organization is expressing strong satisfaction, and that's the largest American media workers union, the CWA.
The Creative Workers of America Union published a press release today following the consummation of the merger, arguing that it will "Transform the Video Game and Technology Labor Market."
This is due to a legally-binding labor neutrality agreement announced in January and that will go into effect in 60 days from today. The provisions of the agreement are as follows.
- 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.
This means that Microsoft won't stand in the way of those of Activision's over 10,000 workers who would like to join an union.
CWA president Claude Cummings Jr. welcomed the news with a rather enthusiastic comment, mentioning that Microsoft's approach should be the norm across the industry while lambasting Activision's previous attempts to block unionization.
It is a new day for workers at Activision Blizzard. 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.
It's worth mentioning that Microsoft agreed to a similar process for the workers at ZeniMax Media as well following that acquisition, which resulted in them voting to be represented by the CWA. The press release also included a comment from Dylan Burton, a Quality Assurance Tester at id Software, ZeniMax, and CWA member.
Every Activision Blizzard worker should take advantage of this opportunity to have a legally-protected voice,
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.
It's worth mentioning that, while the merger has now been consummated, the American FTC is still on the warpath and (at least for now) intends to keep going with its internal administrative law process against the deal while following new paths of investigation.
That being said, the regulator is simply too late to block the merger, and would have to seek a divestiture, a process which would take a long time with likely slim chances of success due to the high legal standards it would have to achieve.