After 22 months of negotiation and regulatory hurdles, the sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft was completed this morning, as the CMA–the United Kingdom’s regulatory body–finally agreed to the deal. Many are reacting to the news, with the Communications Workers Of America union particularly pleased in what this could mean for Activision’s workforce moving forward.
Back in June 2022–five months after the sale was originally announced–the CWA and Microsoft announced a “labor neutrality agreement” which stated that Microsoft would remain neutral if the 10,000+ employee workforce at Activision would pursue unionization. With the sale now complete, the CWA is looking forward to Microsoft keeping that agreement.
CWA president Claude Cummings called the sale’s completion “a new day for Activision employees,” with the pre-existing agreement serving as a major factor for that optimistic vision.
“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,” Cummings said in an official CWA statement. “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.”
The official terms of the agreement, per the CWA, are as follows:
- Microsoft will maintain neutrality 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.
Microsoft has shown evidence that it will back up its talk with action–or non-action, as it were–when members of Bethesda’s QA staff announced an intention to unionize back in December. During this period, Microsoft stayed out of proceedings, and one month later, that group became a recognized member of the CWA.
For more on the Xbox/Activision merger, here’s the full report on the completion of the sale, as well as Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s announcement that he will stay with the company until the end of 2023.