One month after announcing their intention to organize, QA workers at ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize.
According to a press release from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the vote was won with a supermajority vote.
“We’re thrilled to kick off 2023 in a workplace that’s stronger and more equitable than it was last year,” said Skylar Hinnant, Senior QA Tester II at Rockville. “This is an empowering victory that allows us to protect ourselves and each other in a way we never could without a union. 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.”
“It’s difficult to express in words just how much winning our union matters to us,” added Dylan, Senior QA Tester at Dallas. “We’ve been working so hard to get here that it would be impossible not to be excited.”
CWAUnion on Twitter added a comment as well.
“Unlike other video game and tech corporations, Microsoft made a public commitment around its labor principles which included respecting its employees’ right to form a union. When ZeniMax employees announced that they were organizing, Microsoft agreed to remain neutral.”
Phil Spencer Continues To Indicate Microsoft Remaining Neutral Regarding Unions
This is the first union to formally organize at Microsoft. The company has stated its intentions to remain natural during any studio attempt to form a union.
“They have definitely stood by their word all along,” said Beth Allen, a CWA spokesperson. “It’s pretty momentous. Microsoft is an outlier in the way tech companies have been behaving.”
“Microsoft has lived up to its commitment to its workers and let them decide for themselves whether they want a union,” said Chris Shelton, Communications Workers of America President. “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 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’s comments refer to Activision’s failure to recognize the Raven QA union. Further reports indicate that Activision withheld raises from those wanting to form a union. Additionally, when news broke that Blizzard Albany was preparing for a union vote, Activision attempted to postpone it.
What Does This Mean for Microsoft’s Attempted Purchase of Activision Blizzard?
Last month, the CWA came out in favor of Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“Activision Blizzard is using its already-significant power to resist workers’ organizing efforts and clearly does not wish to respect its workers’ right to freely and fairly organize a union,” the CWA said in a statement last month. “After CWA brought our concerns to light, Microsoft agreed to enter into negotiations to show regulators their good faith efforts to address monopsony harms, resulting in a legally binding agreement with CWA.”
“Approving this merger with the labor agreement that we fashioned with Microsoft to protect collective bargaining rights would have sent a game-changing message to corporate America that workers do indeed have a seat at the table and their concerns matter and must be addressed. We believe the FTC’s case is not likely to convince a federal judge, particularly as the European Commission may move to approve the deal, and that workers at Activision Blizzard will finally have the opportunity to improve their wages, benefits and working conditions through their union.”
The FTC’s case refers to the news regarding the Federal Trade Commission announcing its intent to block the deal. In addition, the FTC claims that “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals.” They also reference the decision by Microsoft to keep several upcoming Bethesda titles as console exclusives “despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no incentive to withhold games from rival consoles.”