Microsoft plays well with unionized workers. Can the tech giant be trusted?


Unfortunately, Microsoft does not accept union membership by card verification, the informal collection of union authorization cards from workers. The agreement states (according to the CWA) that “employees will have access to an innovative, technology-supported, streamlined process for choosing to join a union” that “can maintain the privacy and confidentiality of that choice if they wish”. I couldn’t get a clear answer from Microsoft on what this means, but it seems to eliminate any possibility of card verification, because card verification, by definition, is not performed with every expectation of confidentiality. The “streamlined process backed by innovative technology” sounds suspiciously like a card verification alternative that Microsoft could keep control over. If so, Activision Blizzard workers better go through the tedious process of an NLRB-supervised election. (A small 28-person employee bargaining unit at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Studio voted last month to unionize in an election sponsored by the NLRB.)

What is clear is that Activision Blizzard desperately needs a company-wide union. California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for follow-up the company last July, alleging that its “frat boy” culture results in classic examples of sexual harassment: rape jokes, groping, men delegating work to female employees so they can play video games, etc. . An employee, according to the complaint, committed suicide while on a business trip with her male supervisor to which the supervisor brought anal plugs and lubricant.

ActivisionBlizzard disputed complaints, but a follow-up investigation report by The Wall Street Journal said that after the California lawsuit was filed, the company received “more than 500 reports from current and former employees alleging harassment, sexual assault, bullying, pay disparity and other issues” and that the company’s chief executive, Bobby Kotick, routinely ignored such complaints. The Log article quoted a longtime employee who said an Activision Blizzard party featured pole dancing by scantily clad women. Bad publicity of the lawsuit in California and the Log exposed sent shares of Activision Blizzard plummeting, inciting Microsoft’s offer to acquire it.


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