Hundreds of Microsoft game studios workers will vote on forming a union
Nearly 300 quality assurance workers at video game studios owned by Microsoft have taken steps towards forming a union, according to a representative from the Communication Workers of America, which represents them.
Why it matters: If it succeeds, it’ll be the biggest effort to unionize yet seen in the game industry.
Driving the news: The testers, who work on development teams in the ZeniMax Studios group consisting of Bethesda, Id Software and others, can signal their preference about whether to form a union through signed union cards or an electronic portal. The news was first reported by the New York Times.
- Microsoft will voluntarily recognize the union if the majority of the workers say they want it, a rep for CWA said in a press release. That recognition would avoid the contentious National Labor Relations Board review process that has slowed unionization efforts among testers at Activision Blizzard.
- Two Activision Blizzard QA teams formed unions this year via the NLRB-administered process, including one studio last week.
- Microsoft purchased the ZeniMax Studios group in 2020 for $7.5 billon.
The big picture: Microsoft pledged earlier this year to remain neutral on union matters.
- That promise was an olive branch to workers skeptical of Microsoft's actions, should the company succeed in its $69 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard.
- Following that pledge, the CWA said it would support Microsoft's bid.
- Union efforts have made inroads at big tech largely through gaming, retail workers and warehouse workers.
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Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that the New York Times was first to report the news about organizing at Zenimax.