Microsoft’s Union Truce Could Reshape Tech’s Long War With Labor
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Author: Ina Fried
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With the seemingly modest step of agreeing not to oppose workers' efforts to unionize, Microsoft has upended long-held assumptions about Big Tech's hostility to organized labor.

Why it matters: Microsoft's move suggests some tech leaders are beginning to accept the inevitability that at least some parts of their maturing industry will end up unionized. 

Driving the news: In a series of pledges and commitments in recent days, Microsoft has said it won't stand in the way of workers who want to unionize and signed an agreement not to interfere with any efforts by Activision Blizzard workers.

Be smart: Microsoft is largely reiterating its support for rights that workers are already entitled to. However, in a world where companies like Amazon and Apple have actively worked to dissuade workers from organizing, Microsoft's move seems downright radical.

Between the lines: Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry have long argued that unions make it harder for startups and big firms alike to stay nimble and profitable in a market that's always changing fast.

Zoom out: While Microsoft has signaled its openness to organized labor efforts, several large tech companies have continued to resist efforts by workers to form unions.

The big picture: A potential warming in tech's stance towards labor would come at a moment when the economy is sputtering and significant numbers of tech workers are being laid off.

What's next: Microsoft president Brad Smith has twice in recent weeks told me that Microsoft is simply doing what it sees fit for its own relationship with workers and not trying to push others. However, labor leaders see Microsoft's move as a potential model for others.

Yes, but: He said it's still way too soon to know whether Microsoft's move will open more doors for labor.

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