Microsoft: Video game workers form first U.S. union

A group of video game testers form Microsoft’s first union in the United States, which will also be the largest in the video game industry.

Communications Workers of America said Tuesday that about 300 quality assurance workers at Microsoft’s video game subsidiary ZeniMax Studios voted to join the union.

Microsoft has previously told the CWA that it would agree to union formation at its Maryland-based video game subsidiary, fulfilling a promise it made to try to gain public support for its acquisition of 68, $7 billion from another big game company, Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft bought ZeniMax for $7.5 billion in 2021, giving the Xbox maker control of ZeniMax’s famed game publishing division, Bethesda Softworks, and popular game franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout.

The organizing drive was sparked, in part, by Microsoft’s pending bid to buy California gaming giant Activision Blizzard. Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash., made a pact in June with the CWA union to remain neutral if Activision Blizzard workers seek to form a union.

Microsoft’s legally binding agreement applied specifically to Activision Blizzard workers after the merger closed. But it also reflects Microsoft’s broader principles on managing unionization, which is still rare in the tech and gaming industries.

“They’ve definitely kept their word from the start,” CWA spokeswoman Beth Allen said. “That’s pretty momentous. Microsoft is an outlier in how tech companies have fared.”

Unionized workers are based in Hunt Valley and Rockville, Maryland, as well as the Texas cities of Austin and Dallas.

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