There are many factors in Microsoft’s near-$70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. One of the most pertinent concerns unionization efforts, specifically from the QA team at Raven Software, which makes large contributions to the Call of Duty franchise.
There was a concern for the labor movement when the deal was announced, as organizers worried their momentum would be halted by the news or even stifled by Microsoft itself when the merger was completed. In at least one respect, the laborers can rest easy: “Microsoft will not stand in the way if Activision Blizzard recognizes a union.” That’s a quote from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in a letter shared with Axios. “Microsoft respects Activision Blizzard employees’ right to choose whether to be represented by a labor organization, and we will honor those decisions,” Nadella adds.
It’s good to know that Microsoft won’t interfere — it’s not presently in charge of anything at Activision Blizzard — but that’s not the same as giving support. That’s a pretty big “if” in Nadella’s first statement. Organizers within Raven Software haven’t been successful so far. They were embedded into other departments following the unionization vote, and while the company refuses to acknowledge the union thus far, the group will still go ahead with its own elections. Some absurd anti-union rhetoric was later shared by a law firm hired by Activision Blizzard in the wake of all this.
Microsoft could actually be the difference-maker when it gains control of Activision Blizzard, but the companies aren’t expected to merge until fiscal year 2023. Until then, controversial CEO Bobby Kotick remains in charge.