Nearly 300 QA workers from Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Studios will soon be voting to unionize. Per the Communications Workers of America (CWA), ZeniMax marks the first studio to unionize under Microsoft in the United States.
“When workers have the opportunity to join a union without company interference, it empowers them to have their voices heard in the workplace,” wrote CWA president Christopher Shelton in a statement provided to Game Developer. “We are glad to support ZeniMax quality assurance workers as they join the growing video game labor movement in the U.S.”
The QA workers are located at four studios spread across Texas (Dallas and Austin) and Maryland (Hunt Valley and Rockville). Voting will conclude at the end of the month.
The news of ZeniMax’s unionization effort comes a week after QA workers at Blizzard Albany successfully unionized. That process hasn’t been without its struggles, but came as Microsoft is working to acquire Activision Blizzard. Having two unionized studios under its umbrella would be notable for Microsoft.
Microsoft signed a labor neutrality agreement in June in the case of Activision Blizzard, and Shelton’s statement affirms that the Xbox maker is taking a similar stance with Zenimax. And as is the case with Blizzard Albany, Microsoft will voluntarily recognize the union if a majority of eligible workers vote in favor of it.
“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,” continued Shelton. “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.”
Today we, a majority of QA workers at ZeniMax, are proud to announce the launch of our union with @CWAunion. We are the first group of workers at Microsoft to formally unionize. We are empowered to advocate for ourselves & build a future where we can thrive alongside the company
— ZeniMax Workers United – CWA (@ZeniMaxWorkers) December 5, 2022