- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Workers at Microsoft-owned video game developer ZeniMax Studios are organizing and attempting to form the first U.S. union at the tech giant.
About 300 quality assurance (QA) workers at The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle developer are attempting to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union announced on Monday. The workers are based at company sites in Hunt Valley and Rockville, Maryland and Austin and Dallas, Texas. Per the CWA, Microsoft has agreed to voluntarily recognize the union if a majority of the ZeniMax Studios workers vote to join in a card count.
In June, Microsoft signaled an open stance toward labor unions when president and vice chair Brad Smith published a memo stating the company is “committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal.” Later that month, the CWA — which has been actively organizing at video game holding company Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft purchased in a $68.7 billion megadeal earlier in the year — inked a labor neutrality agreement with Microsoft. If the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal passes regulatory scrutiny and closes, the neutrality agreement will go into effect 60 days after.
“We applaud Microsoft for remaining neutral through this process and letting workers decide for themselves whether they want a union,” CWA president Christopher Shelton said in a statement. “The company is fulfilling the commitments they laid out in their labor principals earlier this year, while sending a resounding message to the video game industry: the right to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation should be in the hands of the workers, not management.”
A Microsoft spokesperson added, “The recent organizing efforts of ZeniMax employees, and Microsoft and ZeniMax’s neutrality toward this, are an example of our labor principles in action. We remain committed to providing employees with an opportunity to freely and fairly make choices about their workplace representation.”
The CWA successfully organized a union of QA workers at Activision Blizzard-owned Raven Software in May and prevailed in an NLRB union election with another group of QA workers at Blizzard Albany on Friday. The union’s relationship with Activision Blizzard has been contentious, with the CWA filing multiple unfair labor practice complaints with the NLRB against the company and backing employee protests.
So far, the union and Microsoft have found common ground, according to Shelton. On Monday Shelton compared Microsoft’s approach to the unionization drive to those of other video game and tech companies that he says “have made a conscious choice to attack, undermine, and demoralize their own employees when they join together to form a union.” Shelton continued, “Microsoft has made a different choice, which other corporations would be wise to emulate for the good of their corporate culture, their workers, and their customers.”
Dec. 5, 4:04 p.m. Updated with Microsoft statement.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day