As labor movements in the video game industry build up momentum, over 300 quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Online Studios, former Bethesda parent company and current subsidiary of Microsoft, are in the process of organizing a union. The workers are organizing in collaboration with CODE-CWA, which has assisted in the formation of Activision Blizzard’s two unions.
In a statement on Twitter, ZeniMax Workers United posted: “Today we, a majority of QA workers at ZeniMax, are proud to announce the launch of our union with [CODE-CWA]. 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.”
The move comes just days after QA workers at Blizzard’s Albany studio voted unanimously for their union after weather delays and alleged union-busting attempts by parent company Activision Blizzard. However it seems that ZeniMax’s path to unionization might not be hindered by Microsoft, which bought ZeniMax and its several subsidiaries back in 2021.
After Microsoft announced its plans to purchase Activision Blizzard earlier this year, it shared principles that would guide its response to the organizing activities of its employees. The principles included the same “direct dialogue” lines used by companies before while also stating that it does not believe there’s any benefit to “resisting” employees’ unionizing efforts.
It seems to signal Microsoft is adopting a “hands off” approach while also acknowledging the attempts its potential future subsidiary, Activision Blizzard, has made to hinder the organization process there. In fact, in an email to The Verge announcing the union, the CWA said that Microsoft would voluntarily recognize the union should the majority vote pass.
If the vote passes, ZeniMax Workers United would become the largest video game union in the United States and Microsoft’s first. The Verge has reached out to Microsoft for comment.