Microsoft “will not stand in the way” if employees of Activision Blizzard form a union. Unionisation efforts have been ongoing at the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher for months, but proponents of a union at the company have been uncertain of how Microsoft would treat organisation efforts if its planned buyout of Activision Blizzard goes through.
In a message to Microsoft, provided to Axios and intended to run in a local newspaper ad this weekend, Raven’s QA staff says “we recently learned that as part of their proposed merger, Activision Blizzard must seek Microsoft’s approval to voluntarily recognise or into a collective bargaining agreement with us as a union”. The letter goes on to ask Microsoft to encourage Activision Blizzard to recognize the union.
“Microsoft will not stand in the way if Activision Blizzard recognizes a union,” a company representative tells Axios in a statement. “Microsoft respects Activision Blizzard employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a labour organisation and we will honour those decisions”.
Amid protests over layoffs of a dozen contract workers from the Warzone QA department at Raven Software, employees announced in January the formation of the Game Workers Alliance. Activision Blizzard did not respond to the workers by their proposed deadline, telling the Washington Post that “unfortunately, the parties could not reach an agreement”.
In July 2021, the state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging years of workplace discrimination and harassment. The story has since embroiled CEO Bobby Kotick and prompted the US federal government to open an investigation. It continues to unfold and to be of immense importance to the game industry. You can catch up on all the developments so far in this regularly updated explainer article.
Game Workers Alliance and Activision Blizzard recently underwent a hearing at the National Labor Relations Board, intended to determine who at the company would be eligible for a formal union vote.