Microsoft recognized its first labor union in the US after staff at $7.5 billion video game firm ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize

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Microsoft recognized its first labor union in the US after staff at $7.5 billion video game firm ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize
Microsoft recognized its first union in the US, formed by workers at one of its video game subsidiaries ZeniMax Studios.SOPA Images / Contributor/ Getty Images
  • Microsoft recognized its first US labor union, the Communications Workers of America said, Tuesday.
  • Around 300 workers at Microsoft subsidiary ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize in December.
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Microsoft recognized its first labor union in the US, after an overwhelming majority of video game testers at ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize, the Communications Workers of America union announced on Tuesday.

Around 300 software testers across four of ZeniMax's locations in Maryland and Texas voted to unionize, according to Reuters.

ZeniMax is a video game production company popular for its games like The Elder Scrolls and DOOM, and was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in March 2021.

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Workers at the Microsoft subsidiary had been organizing for months and began signing union authorization cards in November 2022. The official voting process commenced on December 2 through a confidential online portal, and closed on December 31.

"We want to put an end to sudden periods of crunch, unfair pay, and lack of growth opportunities within the company. Our union will push for truly competitive pay, better communication between management and workers, a clear path for those that want to progress their career, and more," Victoria Banos, a senior quality assurance audio tester at ZeniMax said in the CWA release.

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Microsoft agreed to voluntarily recognize the union if workers voted to unionize in December, per Reuters. This was a first for the company in the US.

"In light of the results of the recent unionization vote, we recognize the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as the bargaining representative for the Quality Assurance employees at ZeniMax," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. "We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement."

"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," CWA president Chris Shelton said in the release.

"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."

Microsoft said it respected its employee's "legal right to choose whether to join or form a union," in 2022 after quality assurance workers at Activision Blizzard formed a union. Microsoft was acquiring Activision in a $69 billion deal at the time.

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Companies often opt to voluntarily recognize unions to avoid legal trouble. Union workers can petition to the National Labor Relations Board to force their employer to recognize their union, but the process is long and arduous.

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