Microsoft Pledges to Respect Employee Labor Unions, Hypothetically

At a time when labor unions are on the radar of many new businesses and industries, Microsoft—one of the premier tech companies by revenue and reputation—is taking a bold approach. The software giant has released a new set of principles to guide its handling of any hypothetical employee union organizations—if they ever pop up. Microsoft’s new stance is built for “open and constructive” dialogues between employees and company leadership, according to company President Brad Smith. But Smith has also assured his employees that they don’t need to organize to speak their concerns to leadership.

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The pledge was introduced days after a call to unionize from a quality assurance team inside Activision-Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software—the maker of the popular videogame Call of Duty. Microsoft is still awaiting regulatory approval to complete its $69 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. Though Smith acknowledged this union vote, the executive asserted that it was just one of many related considerations that led to the company’s pledge. Two other Seattle-based corporations, Amazon and Starbucks, have been butting heads with their workforces as unionization gains in popularity.