Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets backing of major tech union

Activision
(Image credit: Activision)

What you need to know

  • The president of the Communications Workers of America wrote a piece supporting Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
  • The Communications Workers of America is a major tech union which represents hundreds of thousands of workers across several industries.
  • The piece points toward Microsoft's labor neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America that ensures workers to be able to choose union representation freely.

A major tech union has come out in favor of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Chris Shelton, the president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), wrote a piece for The Hill that calls on the FTC to approve Microsoft's $69 billion purchase. Shelton's argument centers around how Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard would help workers.

"By approving this merger, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the opportunity to make a strong statement in favor of economic democracy and provide a blueprint for an enforceable remedy to protect workers from large employers abusing market power to undercut wages and working conditions," said Shelton.

The union president focused heavily on the labor neutrality deal that the CWA and Microsoft agreed to back in June 2022. That agreement would go into effect 60 days after the acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through. Its central tenant is ensuring that workers can make a choice about union representation freely.

Shelton discussed the potential positive impact of the CWA's neutrality agreement with Microsoft.

"There is, arguably, no industry that needs a strong workforce with inside knowledge to expose wrongdoing or stand up for the common good more than tech. Our neutrality agreement with Microsoft is different from other behavioral remedies which have often been tossed aside by companies as soon as the ink was dry on their deals," said Shelton.

"This is a structural solution, creating a pathway for workers to organize and exercise their true bargaining strength, altering power relations in the labor context but also potentially empowering thousands of consumer-minded watchdogs inside the company. And it’s enforceable through a legally binding agreement."

The support of the CWA is significant for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. The CWA represents hundreds of thousands of people across several industries, including communications, media, education, and video games. 

Shelton also called out Sony, which has been the most vocal opponent to Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard. He argued that Sony has a conflict of interest regarding the potential acquisition and that the deal going through would allow Activision Blizzard workers to fight sexual harassment and other poor working conditions.

In contrast, Shelton stated that "if the merger is disapproved, the power relations within the gaming industry for labor stay the same, Sony protects its very profitable position as the industry leader, and consumers will have to wait and see if subscription services mature into a viable gaming option."

Shelton closed his piece with a call to complete the deal rather than preventing it from going through.

"Approving this merger with the labor agreement that we fashioned with Microsoft to protect collective bargaining rights would send a game-changing message to corporate America that workers do indeed have a seat at the table and their concerns matter and must be addressed," said the CWA president.

"It’s time to seal the deal, not blow it up."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).