News & Commentary

January 6, 2023

Julia Deng

Julia Deng is a student at Harvard Law School.

Flight attendants, ramp agents, and mechanics at Delta report organizing momentum; and a look inside CWA’s support for Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision — a move that the FTC has alleged would consolidate monopoly power.

Unionizing Delta employees have been picking up steam. Flight attendants, ramp agents, and mechanics have active unionization campaigns at airports across the United States, including at Atlanta, New York City, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Seattle. A former employee and current organizer with the International Aerospace Workers credited the recent surge in union support across the US, grueling working conditions since the beginning of the pandemic, inflation, and Delta pilots’ recent tentative agreement. As Sarah wrote last month, it would raise pilots’ wages by 34% over four years. Workers are concerned about arbitrary write-ups that create a “culture of fear,” scheduling issues, and physically demanding jobs. Delta reported record profits in the third quarter of 2022, and expects to earn nearly double in 2023.

The CWA is supporting Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, even though the FTC is currently suing to block the merger. Why? In short, they’d rather be facing Microsoft on the other side of the bargaining table. CWA Chief of Staff Jody Calemine said that the FTC’s decision to sue was “a huge missed opportunity” to support organized labor, and that Microsoft’s use of labor neutrality agreements should be applauded by the Biden administration.

Three different groups of Activision workers have organized with the CWA, and all have confronted the employer’s opposition. Hostile work environment allegations have been part of the organizing campaigns. Activision has refused to voluntarily recognize all three groups, and all have proceeded to a Board-supervised election. The union won two of them, and the third is still yet to come. Activision has also actively resisted the unionization campaigns. It unlawfully withheld pay raises from workers involved in union organizing in October, as Iman wrote in October. It has also unsuccessfully intervened at the Board to expand the bargaining unit, which would have diluted enthusiasm for unionization across the voter pool and made it more difficult for workers to organize.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has announced an intention to be a less oppositional employer, winning the CWA’s support. They entered into a card check agreement with the CWA that will become operative if their acquisition of Activision is successful. And recently, when the CWA organized workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax video game studio, Microsoft agreed to remain neutral.

The FTC’s allegations against Microsoft’s attempts to acquire Activision are rooted in consumer protection concerns, not labor protection.

Daily News & Commentary

Start your day with our roundup of the latest labor developments. See all

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.