In May, we spoke about Phil Spencer who revealed details about Microsoft’s pledge to recognize the organizing efforts of Activision Blizzard subsidiaries following the highly controversial acquisition that is currently making waves in the industry, even at this day. Today, the company president followed up with his own reassuring statement that workers seeking to unionize will be free to do so.
This is, of course, a stark contrast to many other tech and gaming companies that have been trying to fight the idea of worker unions for some time, including Activision Blizzard itself. Microsoft President Brad Smith made a statement in a blog recently posted on Microsoft’s website. Here is an excerpt from his statement:
Recent organizing drives across the country – including in the tech sector – have led us to conclude that these issues will inevitably affect more companies, potentially including ours. This has encouraged us to think proactively about the best approach for our employees, shareholders, customers and other stakeholders.
[…] Today we are announcing a new set of principles for organizing employees and how we will engage our employees, labor organizations and other important stakeholders in critical conversations about work. […] We recognize that this is a journey and that we will have to continue to learn and change as employee expectations and opinions change with the world around us. And we recognize that employers and employees will not always agree on everything.
Smith explained how the company believes in the importance of listening to concerns expressed by employees. In an interview with Axios, he also pointed out that Microsoft employees have the legal right to choose to form or join a union while stressing that all employees, unionized or not, will be able to form a collaborative relationship with senior Microsoft executives.
In that same interview, Smith also said it is inevitable that unions will reach out to more companies while stating that “we don’t need to do contentious things that can be dealt with in a friendlier way”. The funny thing is that the Activision Blizzard deal was one of the reasons Microsoft came to this conclusion after several months of weighing its position toward unions.
While many other companies in the tech and gaming sectors have been less supportive of the idea of unions, union leaders hope to see them eventually follow Microsoft’s lead and open more friendly channels for their staff. Smith himself just said that Microsoft was doing what it thought was good for itself without trying to push the industry.