Social Good

Microsoft Has Its First Union

The unionization wave continues, with Microsoft approving its very first union made up of the company’s video game testers. The effort was led by and represents quality assurance workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios, which produces popular video games like Elder Scrolls, DOOM, and Fallout.

“A supermajority of quality assurance workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios have indicated that they wish to join ZeniMax Workers United/CWA either by signing a union authorization card or voting via an online portal. In accordance with its stated labor principles, Microsoft has recognized the union,” explained Communications Workers of America, a national union representing employees in the communications and information industries, in the announcement’s press release.

The new unit includes all quality assurance workers across every ZeniMax studio in the U.S.

The last year has seen a substantial movement among various tech workers to unionize their industry, led predominantly by Amazon warehouse employees, Apple retail workers, and quality assurance professionals in video gaming. In 2022, video game giant Activision saw the formation of two new units — a monumental advancement as the first big game publisher to unionize, but an effort that incited ample pushback and union-busting efforts from the company itself.

“Microsoft has lived up to its commitment to its workers and let them decide for themselves whether they want a union,” wrote Communications Workers of America president Chris Shelton. “Other video game and tech giants have made a conscious choice to attack, undermine, and demoralize their own employees when they join together to form a union. Microsoft is charting a different course…”

Employees in the tech field, as well as union organizers, have vocalized their support for even greater unionization to protect the rights of an ever-increasingly vital workforce. And their pace has quickened with the entry of new corporate actors, like Elon Musk, who have already displayed concerning labor practices.

Members of the new Microsoft union shared their own renewed energy rising from the majority vote, and company approval, after months of organizing. “Before us is an opportunity to make big changes and bring equity to the video game industry. We want to put an end to sudden periods of crunch, unfair pay, and lack of growth opportunities within the company,” said senior quality assurance audio tester Victoria Banos.

Skylar Hinnant, a senior quality assurance tester, reflected on the union’s desire to see the gaming organizing push continue its momentum going into 2023. “Our hope and belief is that this is the year in which game workers across the country exercise their power and reshape the industry as a whole.”

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