Microsoft enters labor neutrality agreement for Activision Blizzard workers

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(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has agreed to a Labor Neutrality Deal with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) for Activision Blizzard employees.
  • The agreement will take effect 60 days after Microsoft's deal to acquire Activision Blizzard is finalized. 
  • Microsoft is legally committing to taking a neutral approach and allowing Activision Blizzard workers to freely discuss and engage in unionization.
  • Microsoft's deal to acquire Activision Blizzard is currently slated to finalize at some point before June 30, 2023. 

Microsoft made a historic agreement with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) on Monday, committing to allowing Activision Blizzard employees to discuss and engage in unionization efforts. 

The terms of the agreement will begin 60 days after the purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is finalized. This comes after Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer previously told Xbox Game Studios employees at an all-hands meeting that Microsoft would respect the Raven Software QA unit that recently unionized.

“This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organize and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry,” said (opens in new tab) CWA president Chris Shelton, adding that "The agreement addresses CWA’s previous concerns regarding the acquisition, and, as a result, we support its approval and look forward to working collaboratively with Microsoft after this deal closes.”

The deal for Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard — a purchase worth almost $69 billion — is currently undergoing regulatory approval, and is slated to be complete at some point in Microsoft's fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. 

Speaking with The Washington Post, Microsoft president Brad Smith notes that Microsoft was not legally required to speak to Activision Blizzard leadership regarding the neutrality agreement. As such, Microsoft did not consult Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick on the terms of the agreement.

Smith previously outlined steps Microsoft would take in committing to collaborating with and engaging with unions if employees expressed interest.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.