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Microsoft pledges labor neutrality at Activision Blizzard, this week in the war on workers

Microsoft entered a neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America, saying it would not get in the way of Activision Blizzard workers’ union rights if it acquires the video game company. This is believed to be the first such neutrality agreement in the tech industry, and it is a major one, affecting most of Activision Blizzard’s nearly 7,000 U.S. workers.

In practical terms, [the neutrality deal] means that we’re not going to try to jump in and put a thumb on the scale,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in The New York Times. “We will respect the fact that our employees are capable of making decisions for themselves and they have a right to do that.” Imagine that! Respecting your workers’ ability and rights to make decisions for themselves! It seems so basic, but it’s an enormous departure from typical corporate practice when faced with the possibility of workers organizing, as we’ve seen recently in the abuses that Starbucks and Amazon have heaped on their unionizing workers.

As some Activision workers have protested sexual harassment at the company and some have sought to unionize, the company has engaged in some of those same union-busting tactics, so a Microsoft acquisition would mean a significant shift.

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