The Communications workers of America (opens in new tab) announced today that a “supermajority” of quality assurance employees at ZeniMax Studios have officially voted to join the ZeniMax Workers United/CWA, which is the first video game studio union at parent company Microsoft and what is – at least for a while – the largest will be union of video game workers in the US.
The official voting period ran from Dec. 2 to Dec. 31, but the CWA said unionization efforts at ZeniMax have been underway for “months” and some employees began signing union authorization cards in November.
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“We are excited to start 2023 in a workplace that is stronger and fairer than last year,” said senior QA tester Skylar Hinnant. “This is a powerful victory that allows us to protect ourselves and each other in a way we could never do without a union. We hope and believe that this is the year when game workers across the country wield their power and the reshape industry as a whole.”
“It’s hard to put into words how important it is for us to win our union,” said senior QA tester Dylan Burton. “We’ve worked so hard to get here it would be impossible not to be excited. We know this isn’t the end of our hard work, but reaching this milestone gives us confidence that we can achieve anything if the workers are united.” We’ve set our sights on that.”
Unlike Activision Blizzard, which has fought unions (opens in new tab) Microsoft, which could soon become Activision’s parent company, committed tooth and nail to neutrality in the ZeniMax union vote when it first announced (opens in new tab). Shortly after the votes were counted, Microsoft extended official recognition of the new union.
“In light of the results of the recent union vote, we recognize the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as the negotiating representative for the Quality Assurance employees at ZeniMax,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement to PC Gamer. “We look forward to negotiating in good faith as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement.”
CWA president Chris Shelton was critical of other game studios and technology companies choosing to “attack, undermine and demoralize” workers to try to form unions, but paid tribute to Microsoft for “charting a different course of action that its company culture and capability”. to serve its customers.” Microsoft’s approach to unionization “should serve as a model for the industry and a blueprint for regulators,” Shelton added, which will no doubt be a nice sound bite for Microsoft as it continues to push for regulatory approval (opens in new tab) of the Activision Blizzard acquisition.
Big news! Congratulations @ZeniMaxWorkers! We are so excited to officially welcome them to the CWA family! https://t.co/55X6468UW1January 3, 2023
Activision-Blizzard has been central to the game industry’s union efforts, but the creation of ZeniMax Workers United is a big deal in its own right: The company’s subsidiaries include Arkane Studios, Bethesda Softworks, id Software, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, and ZeniMax Online studios. The CWA said the new union “includes all US QA employees at ZeniMax’s various studios.”
Another Activision Blizzard studio also recently announced its plan to unify: Proletariat (opens in new tab), which acquired Activision in June 2022, announced last week that its employees are forming as the Proletariat Workers Alliance. Unlike the ZeniMax union and others at Activision Blizzard, which only include QA workers, the Proletarian union will cover the entire studio.