Microsoft says it will not interfere with workers' right to unionize

Redmond, Washington - As major companies like Starbucks and Amazon continue to crack down on employees seeking to unionize, Microsoft says it will take a different tack if its own workforce decides to organize.

Microsoft President Brad Smith says the company "respects" its employees' right to form a union.
Microsoft President Brad Smith says the company "respects" its employees' right to form a union.  © JASON REDMOND / AFP

In a blog post published Thursday, Microsoft President Brad Smith repeated the usual corporate line: "Our employees will never need to organize to have a dialogue with Microsoft’s leaders."

But then things took a different direction when he wrote, "We recognize that employees have a legal right to choose whether 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."

"We are committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal," Smith confirmed.

The statement comes as Microsoft looks to secure a deal on buying Activision Blizzard, which is partially unionized. Activision and Raven Software had been accused of union-busting ahead of the vote, including sending out messages to employees and firing pro-union workers.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler praised Microsoft's statement, tweeting, "We know labor and management can be true partner's in a company's success, and it's important for company's to respect workers' rights. Microsoft's collaborative approach to working with its employees who seek to organize is a best practice."

"We look forward to seeing it implemented at Microsoft and other companies in the tech sector and beyond," she added.

Is Microsoft just talking the talk, or will they really walk the walk? We'll find out if and when workers try to form a union.

Cover photo: JASON REDMOND / AFP

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