Microsoft Lives Their Worker Organizing Principles
Microsoft put its organizing principles into action and embarked on a new collaborative approach to labor relations when it recognized its first union earlier this year.
In 2022, Microsoft publicly announced a set of principles for how the company would approach employee organizing and engage with unions. The principles affirmatively recognize that employees “have a legal right to choose whether to form or join a union.” Microsoft’s principles also recognize that its continued success in a competitive global economy necessitates a strong relationship and partnership with its employees, whether represented by a union or not.
Late last year, when workers at Zenimax indicated they wanted to form a union, Microsoft stayed neutral through the organizing campaign. This was an incredibly impactful move for a technology company. Remaining neutral reflected Microsoft’s principles that ensuring workers have the space to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation benefits both the company and its employees while creating new opportunities for innovation. In an industry where many companies are known for pushing their employees, Zenimax and Microsoft are forging a new and more collaborative path.
As technology companies continue to confront evolving workplace issues, from increased worker activism to grappling with workplace harassment and return-to-office policies, Zenimax workers will have a clear voice and seat at the table. Not having to fear retaliation from their employer for joining a union is a very real win that will have long-term, positive impacts across the company. Microsoft, in turn, has a partner with which to collaborate, dialogue, and innovate new solutions.
Microsoft and Zenimax’s successes lay new ground for the technology and video gaming industry. First, clear principles regarding employee organizing helped set a valuable foundation for collaboration. Second, workers were able to choose to form a union freely, and without interference. Finally, the two parties are coming together to develop a first contract, and prioritizing a collaborative relationship that facilitates innovation at work. These actions show how other companies can engage with workers’ growing interest in unionization.
Cassandra Robertson is acting deputy assistant secretary for research and evaluation in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy.
Trudy Rebert is a policy advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy.
Lynn Rhinehart is a former senior counselor in the Office of the Secretary.
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Wed, 08/09/2023 – 11:37