The Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union for workers in telecommunications, media, and other fields, has filed an amicus brief supporting the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger.
What’s an amicus brief? An amicus brief is filed by a person or party that wishes to make their support for one side of an ongoing case official. The CWA’s amicus brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is overseeing the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger.
Why is the CWA in favor of the merger? The union is supporting the merger to initiate a legally enforceable labor neutrality agreement between Microsoft and the CWA. Once the merger is approved, the agreement would immediately allow all Activision Blizzard workers to freely discuss and begin working towards unionizing. As an independent company, Activision Blizzard has pushed back hard against any attempts by employees to organize.
What is the labor neutrality agreement? The agreement was made between the CWA and Microsoft in June of 2022. As part of the pact, Microsoft has committed to noninterference when employees at any studio under its umbrella express interest in unionizing. The company would also facilitate communication between Microsoft employees and union representatives. The agreement also establishes a streamlined voting process, which the organizations say better protects employee confidentiality and privacy. Lastly, agreement includes a pledge from both sides to work together to resolve future disputes quickly and use an expedited arbitration process to settle on a first contract if necessary.
Is this all legit? According to the CWA, Microsoft has already demonstrated its commitment to the agreement by extending its provision to its current employees. When the company purchased Zenimax Studios in 2020, Microsoft remained neutral when Zenimax employees attempted to unionize. That union now represents 300 workers and is the largest of its type in the U.S. gaming industry. The union says that agreements like the one it has with Microsoft should be viewed as preferred remedies in situations where labor market concerns exist.
What are they saying? The CWA brief filed on Wednesday states:
Unions, through collective bargaining agreements, offer countervailing power for workers and, therefore, can address problems of employer market power. The Labor Neutrality Agreement between Microsoft and CWA…will benefit both the workers and the employer and will offer a blueprint for labor relations in the industry. Microsoft has taken a positive, proactive approach to labor market issues here and has done so in a meaningful, effective way.
Pictured at top: Activision-Blizzard’s Diablo 4