Quality Assurance Workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios establish the company’s first union with CWA and become the largest certified video game studio in the US
A supermajority of quality assurance workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios have indicated that they wish to join ZeniMax Workers United/CWA either by signing a union authorization card or voting via an online portal. In accordance with its stated labor principles, Microsoft has recognized the union.
ZeniMax is a video game production company with studios in Maryland and Texas known for its popular games such as Elder Scrolls, DOOM, Quake Champions, and Fallout. ZeniMax Workers United/CWA is the first studio at Microsoft to secure union representation, and the largest group of union-represented Quality Assurance testers at any US game studio.
“We’re thrilled to kick off 2023 in a workplace that’s stronger and more equitable than it was last year,” said Skylar Hinnant, Senior QA Tester II in Rockville, MD. This is an empowering victory that allows us to protect ourselves and each other in a way we never could without a union. Our hope and belief is that this is the year in which game workers across the country exercise their power and reshape the industry as a whole.”
Quality assurance workers across ZeniMax have been organizing for months to positively transform ZeniMax for the benefit of workers, the company, and the players who enjoy the studios’ games. Workers began signing union authorization cards in November 2022, and started the official voting process through a confidential online portal. The unit includes all QA employees in the U.S. across ZeniMax's various studios.
“Before us is an opportunity to make big changes and bring equity to the video game industry. We want to put an end to sudden periods of crunch, unfair pay, and lack of growth opportunities within the company, said Victoria Banos, Senior QA Audio Tester, Hunt Valley, MD. “Our union will push for truly competitive pay, better communication between management and workers, a clear path for those that want to progress their career, and more.”
Unlike other video game and tech corporations, Microsoft made a public commitment around its labor principles which included respecting its employees’ right to form a union. When ZeniMax employees announced that they were organizing a union in December, Microsoft agreed to remain neutral and allow workers to make their own decision about whether or not to join the union. The company swiftly recognized ZeniMax Workers United/CWA after a neutral third party confirmed that a majority of workers favored joining the union.
“Microsoft has lived up to its commitment to its workers and let them decide for themselves whether they want a union,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “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. Microsoft is charting a different course which will strengthen its corporate culture and ability to serve its customers and should serve as a model for the industry and as a blueprint for regulators.”
Zenimax Workers United/CWA joins the wave of game and tech workers at Activision, Alphabet, Apple, and dozens of other companies who have organized with CODE-CWA to build a better workplace.
CWA urges the FTC and the DOJ to take into account in merger review guidelines the role of collective bargaining in counterbalancing employer market power