Quality Assurance Workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios Establish Company’s First Union with Communications Workers of America, Become Largest Certified Video Game Studio in U.S.
(Rockville, Maryland) — 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 U.S. game studio.
“We’re thrilled to kick off 2023 in a workplace that’s stronger and more equitable than it was last year. 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,” said Skylar Hinnant, Senior QA Tester II, Rockville.
“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. 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,” said Victoria Banos, Senior QA Audio Tester, Hunt Valley.
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 that opened on Friday, December 2 at 8am PST and closed on December 31 at 6pm PST. The unit includes all QA employees in the U.S. across ZeniMax's various studios.
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.”
"It's difficult to express in words just how much winning our union matters to us. We've been working so hard to get here that it would be impossible not to be excited. We know this is not the end of our hard work, but reaching this milestone gives us faith that when workers stand together, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to," said Dylan Burton, Senior QA Tester, Dallas.
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.
Follow ZeniMax Workers United/CWA at @ZeniMaxWorkers
The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) is a network of worker-organizers and their staff working every single day to build the voice and power necessary to ensure the future of the tech, game, and digital industries in the United States and Canada. CODE-CWA is a project of the Communications Workers of America which represents hundreds of thousands of workers throughout tech, media, telecom, and other industries who stand together to fight for justice on the job and in our communities.
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