A group of Microsoft Corp.
employees voted to form the software company’s first union in the United States, marking the latest example of high-tech company workers organizing in recent years.
The group includes about 300 quality assurance testers in Microsoft’s ZeniMax unit, the Communications Workers of America, which represents it, said Tuesday. Only a handful of US-based unions exist in the video game industry.
“We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work toward a collective bargaining agreement,” a spokeswoman for Microsoft and ZeniMax said.
In June, Microsoft said it was open to working with any unions that want to organize among its workforce, making it an exception in the tech industry. Last year, Amazon.com Inc.
challenged workers’ efforts to organize. Microsoft said it would support Activision Blizzard workers Inc.
who last year arranged whether his $75 billion “Call of Duty” developer deal was to go through.
“Microsoft has lived up to its commitment to its workers and let them decide for themselves if they want a union,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “Other gaming and tech giants made the conscious choice to attack, undermine and demoralize their own employees when they banded together to form a union.”
Microsoft announced its intention to buy Activision a year ago for $75 billion. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to block the deal, saying it would harm competition in the video game industry. The Redmond, Wash.-based company, which values the deal at $68.7 billion after adjusting for Activision’s net cash, argued it would do the opposite.
The Activision deal would be the biggest ever for Microsoft. It bought ZeniMax, the company behind hit franchises like “Doom,” “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout,” in 2021 for $7.5 billion. Microsoft now owns about two dozen studios and manufactures Xbox game consoles.
Microsoft shares, which have fallen about 30% in the past 12 months, were little changed after Tuesday’s news.
In addition to Amazon and Activision, other big companies where new groups of workers have recently voted to wear union cards include Apple. Inc.,
Trader Joe’s, Recreational Equipment Inc. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
For the 12 months ended September 30, more than 2,500 applications for union representation were filed with the National Labor Relations Board, a 53% increase over the previous year and the most since 2016.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at Sarah.Needleman@wsj.com
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