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ZeniMax Workers United Votes to Unionize, With Microsoft Formally Recognizing Its First Union

Christina Gonzalez Updated: Posted:
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ZeniMax Workers United, a group representing about 300 QA workers across ZeniMax studios has prevailed in a vote to unionize, with a supermajority voting in favor. ZeniMax owner, Microsoft, which agreed to not get in the way of any of its teams that chose to unionize, has formally recognized the union. 

This was confirmed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), under which ZeniMax Workers United will unionize. Next steps are to come, but in a CWA press release, they note that this is the first studio under Microsoft to unionize, and “the largest group of union-represented Quality Assurance testers at any U.S. game studio”. Recent games industry unionization efforts have been won by quality assurance teams, and this is the latest, and biggest, example.

The voting process took place throughout December and included all QA employees in the US across ZeniMax studios. This impacts workers from Bethesda, Arkane, ZeniMax Online Studios, id, and more. It’s only the beginning, but Microsoft’s voluntary recognition should help move along the formal procedures to begin to work out a collective bargaining agreement. 

CWA president Chris Shelton is positive about Microsoft’s cooperation, saying that “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”.

While Microsoft has voluntarily recognized its very first union, Blizzard has tended to oppose efforts, with reasoning that ranges from direct communication with workers is a better option and claiming that QA workers alone should not be able to take a union vote, but the entire studio should get the chance to cast a ballot. The ZeniMax QA workers announced their intention to have a union vote last month, and this news follows the announcement by Blizzard’s recently-acquisition, Spellbreak development studio Proletariat, of a desire to unionize the entire studio. 

Read the full CWA press release on ZeniMax Workers United.


Christina Gonzalez

Christina is MMORPG.COM’s News Editor and a contributor since 2011. Always a fan of great community and wondering if the same sort of magic that was her first guild exists anymore.