Microsoft Says It Will Respect Activision Blizzard Labor Campaign Outcome
In January, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the struggling video game publisher and developer, for nearly $69 billion in an all-cash deal. Fifteen employees of Raven Software, a studio owned by Activision Blizzard, signed a letter on Wednesday calling on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to encourage Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognize their union, the Game Workers Alliance. Microsoft vice president and president Brad Smith has been copied on the letter.
The letter also denounced Reed Smith, the law firm retained by Activision Blizzard, for posting union-busting material on its website, specifically a PowerPoint presentation with a slide titled “Types of Employees Unions Exploit.”
“I hope you will agree that this demeaning and insulting approach to employees seeking to improve their workplace must not be tolerated,” reads the letter from the 15 workers.
“The content for this presentation was created for a workshop in 2013 by lawyers no longer with the firm,” said Phill McGowan, director of corporate communications at Reed Smith. “This does not reflect how our firm thinks about the rights of employees and employers. These slides have no bearing on the CWA’s pending representation motion and were not prepared or used by the attorneys representing Activision Blizzard. . »
The Communications Workers of America union, a group that supports Activision Blizzard’s worker organizing efforts, told the Post that Microsoft has not directly responded to the workers’ letter and concerns beyond the statement that he had provided to the media.
In January, 34 quality assurance workers at Raven asked management to voluntarily recognize their union. Most of the testers have been working on the popular game “Call of Duty: Warzone” and had been organizing for months, driven by recent layoffs, excessive overtime, and low wages.
Activision, however, did not respond within the deadline set by the organizing workers, writing that “unfortunately the parties were unable to reach an agreement” in a statement to the Post in January. The workers then filed a demand for a union election with the National Labor Relations Council. They are waiting for a judge to rule on what should be the group of eligible workers who can vote to unionize.
Activision Blizzard employees have been at the forefront of conversations across the industry about working conditions and misconduct. The company was sued last July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which accused the video game publisher of having a “‘frat boy’ work culture.” Amid the emerging allegations, employees have called for the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, to step down and for studios under the Activision Blizzard umbrella to unionize. The company was also sued on Wednesday by an unnamed employee alleging sexual harassment, favoritism and sexual assault.
Lisa Bloom, an attorney representing the plaintiff, told The Post: “Activision ignored its many victims of sexual harassment because its CEO made hundreds of millions. He should be fired for cause, as we are asking in the lawsuit. The victims deserve immediate compensation for their injuries and the promotions to which they are entitled. We will continue to sue until we obtain full and fair compensation for our customers.
Activision Blizzard did not respond to a request for comment.