Microsoft Won't Stand In The Way Of Unionization Efforts, Company Says

Microsoft president Brad Smith says workers don't need to unionize to be heard.


Microsoft has said it will not stand in the way of attempts from its workers to unionize, though the company says workers don't need to form a union to be heard by upper management. Microsoft is making this statement amid a growing tide of unionization efforts in the US, including some in the video game space that could affect Microsoft going forward.

In a blog post, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the American economy "continues to evolve" and that the "free market is being reshaped in part by changing public expectations about the nature of work and the responsibilities of corporations."

Responding to recent efforts among US workers to unionize [workers at Amazon, Starbucks, and others have recently formed unions in the US], Smith said it's an "inevitability" that even more unions are coming, and they could happen at Microsoft. This might become a reality soon for Microsoft, as some workers at Call of Duty studio Raven recently voted to form a union. Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty franchise, and all of its studios. Xbox boss Phil Spencer previously said Microsoft would recognize Raven's workers' union.

Microsoft will not seek to stop workers from unionizing, Smith said, but the company also is not promoting unions. "Our employees will never need to organize to have a dialogue with Microsoft's leaders," Smith said. "But we also recognize the workplace is changing."

Smith said Microsoft has "talked with and worked hard to learn from" leaders in the labor, business, and academic spaces as it relates to unions. But it's still early days, and Smith acknowledged that "We recognize that we have far more learning ahead of us than behind us."

Smith went on to say that Microsoft recognizes the legal right of its workers to form or join a union. "We respect this right and do not believe that our employees or the company's other stakeholders benefit by resisting lawful employee efforts to participate in protected activities, including forming or joining a union," Smith said.

The executive also mentioned that Microsoft higher-ups have an "open door policy" and other "listening systems and employee resource groups" to help workers feel heard.

In the event that Microsoft workers want to unionize, Smith said Microsoft "will make it simpler, rather than more difficult, for our employees to make informed decisions and to exercise their legal right to choose whether to form or join a union."

"We acknowledge that this is a journey, and we will need to continue to learn and change as employee expectations and views change with the world around us. And we recognize that employers and employees will not always agree on all topics--and that is okay," Smith said. "Perhaps as much as anything, we bring a sense of optimism grounded in an appreciation that success in a competitive global economy requires that businesses and labor strive to work together well."

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