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Microsoft Agrees to Stay Neutral on Union Push at Activision Blizzard

The tech giant says it'll respect employees' rights to unionize once its acquisition of Activision Blizzard is finalized.

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The agreement would take effect for Activision Blizzard employees 60 days after the acquisition is finalized. 
Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft and media union Communications Workers of America said Monday they've agreed to a labor neutrality pact. The decision would specifically affect Activision Blizzard workers, who have been consulting the CWA to organize a union once Microsoft's acquisition of the video game company is completed. 

The new labor agreement would take effect for Activision Blizzard employees 60 days after the deal is finalized. The deal is slated to close by June of next year. 

"We respect the right of our employees to make informed decisions on their own," Microsoft President Brad Smith said in an interview with The Washington Post. "It means that we don't try to put a thumb on the scale to influence or pressure them. We give people the opportunity to exercise their right to choose by voting. ... It's something that's respectful of everyone, more amicable and avoids business disruption."

The video game giant has faced scrutiny for preventing employees from unionizing in the past. In May, the National Labor Relations Board said that Activision Blizzard violated the National Labor Relations Act by interfering with employee unionization efforts after the company allegedly threatened staff and established a social media policy that stymied its workers' collective action rights. 

In an interview with the Post, CWA President Christopher Shelton said negotiations started when Microsoft announced in January it would buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

Microsoft didn't respond to a request for additional comment.