The president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) labour union group has asked the European Commission to “help make history” by approving the proposed Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger.
The request was made by CWA president Christopher Shelton in an email to the European Commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager. As reported by GI.biz, the two page statement was released earlier this week to coincide with a closed meeting held in Brussels between Microsoft and the European Commission, which is currently investigating the merger over anti-competition concerns.
The CWA had voiced concerns previously that the merger could further aggravate the power imbalance between Activision Blizzard workers and management, which in turn could have led to “lower wages and less bargaining power over working conditions”.
Microsoft subsequently held talks with the CWA, which resulted in a labour neutrality agreement designed to ensure Activision Blizzard employees “a clear path to collective bargaining if the merger is completed”.
“The European Commission has an opportunity in this case to take seriously the impact of a major transaction on the video game labour market,” said Shelton.
“Given the clear pathway to enforceable behavioural remedies for potential consumer harms articulated by the European Commission and other regulators, we hope you will approve this merger and help make history in rebalancing power in labour markets.”
The CWA has been assisting Activision Blizzard workers to establish unions in order to improve working conditions and accountability since 2021, though it said in the letter that large tech corporations are often “hostile to collective bargaining and workplace protections”.
The CWA was instrumental in helping a number of QA workers at Raven Software establish the Game Workers Alliance, which was the first ever union to successfully form at a North American AAA gaming company. Xbox head Phil Spencer has since stated that the union would continue to be recognised following the merger’s completion.
Activision Blizzard has been the subject of controversy in recent years after allegations were made that the company’s “frat boy” culture had fostered and allowed workplace misconduct, sexual discrimination, worker abuse, and union busting activities.
It has since been the subject of numerous protests, walkouts, and lawsuits from employees and government bodies alike. Most recently, in February, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged the company $35 million for “failing to maintain disclosure controls related to complaints of workplace misconduct and violating whistle-blower protection rule”.
Microsoft president Brad Smith has previously stated that the company would put “the right people in the right position” at Activision Blizzard once the deal went through, and that he wished to see the company’s much criticised culture “evolve”. However, as it stands, there is no clear indication as to what that will mean for existing management — including controversial CEO Bobby Kotick — should the deal go through.
Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video gaming news for . He has over eight years experience of covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer