Video Game Testers Form Microsoft’s First Union

A group of video game testers working for Microsoft’s ZeniMax has voted to form the tech giant’s first union, the Communication Workers of America union said Tuesday.

The CWA, which represents the union, said Microsoft will recognize the union in accordance with a promise Microsoft made to the CWA in June to recognize unions formed by employees. Microsoft acquired ZeniMax, the parent company of game developer Bethesda, which develops the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, in 2021 for $7.5 billion.

Microsoft confirmed it’s recognizing the new union, saying in a statement “We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement.”

The video game workers’ unionizing efforts are happening at the same time as the Federal Trade Commission attempts to block Microsoft from purchasing Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, arguing that the merger will harm competition among video game console makers. 

President Chris Shelton said that by agreeing to recognize the union, Microsoft is distancing itself from other tech companies that have actively fought against employees’ efforts to unionize.

“Microsoft is charting a different course which will strengthen its corporate culture and ability to serve its customers and should serve as a model for the industry and as a blueprint for regulators,” Shelton said in a statement.

Microsoft’s recognition of the union comes a little more than a week after dozens of video game employees at Proletariat video game studio, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2022, filed for union representation, the third unionizing push that Activision has seen in the past year. Raven Software employees organized in January, and employees at Blizzard Albany voted to unionize earlier in December. 

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