File this one under reasons we can have nice things: QA workers at ZeniMax have announced they aim to unionize under the Communication Workers of America banner. They would represent around QA 300 workers from multiple titles and substudios, including MMO Elder Scrolls Online’s Zenimax Online Studios and Fallout 76’s Bethsoft, and they will be the first under Microsoft, meaning that if and when Activision-Blizzard finally is subsumed by Microsoft, the QA workers who’ve unionized in 2022 at Blizzard Albany and Raven Software will be in good company alongside the ZeniMax QA union.
ZeniMax Workers United tweeted that its goals are fair treatment for workers, wages commensurate with value provided, opportunities for advancement, accountability, transparency, and a voice in decision-making regarding workload and scheduling. According to the group, Microsoft isn’t interfering overtly or covertly, unlike Activision-Blizzard, which spent the entirety of 2022 attempting to bust unions sprouting in its tangled garden.
“So far, Microsoft has remained committed to staying neutral throughout this process. As we vote over the next 4 weeks in our democratic election, we hope that you will support our journey towards building lasting positive change for workers, gamers & the industry as a whole.”
The CWA president, Chris Shelton, further stated that it “applaud[s] Microsoft for remaining neutral” through the unionization process: “The company is fulfilling the commitments they laid out in their labor principals earlier this year, while sending a resounding message to the video game industry: the right to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation should be in the hands of the workers, not management.”
Voting will apparently take place over the next month, and if the union is successful, Microsoft will then presumably cooperate in recognizing it.
The news comes just as the Shelton penned an editorial in The Hill throwing the weight of the CWA behind the Microsoft acquisition of Activision-Blizzard specifically because of the pro-worker labor neutrality agreement it has negotiated with the company.
“Thanks to [FTC chai Lina Khan’s] leadership and the outreach and interest of the FTC staff, labor is now part of the national antitrust conversation,” he wrote. “Approving this merger with the labor agreement that we fashioned with Microsoft to protect collective bargaining rights would send a game-changing message to corporate America that workers do indeed have a seat at the table and their concerns matter and must be addressed. It’s time to seal the deal, not blow it up.”
Today we, a majority of QA workers at ZeniMax, are proud to announce the launch of our union with @CWAunion. We are the first group of workers at Microsoft to formally unionize. We are empowered to advocate for ourselves & build a future where we can thrive alongside the company
— ZeniMax Workers United – CWA (@ZeniMaxWorkers) December 5, 2022