Back in June, Microsoft took a major step by announcing it was open to the idea of labor unions amongst its workforce. Well, at the start of 2023 Microsoft employees have formed their first union in the United States.

Specifically, a group of around 300 workers from Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios division. You may remember this is the company Microsoft acquired for $7.5 billion in 2020 and is the owner of Bethesda.

The new union has been created by a group of video game testers within the subsidiary. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) points out the union is the largest within the video game industry in the United States.

It is worth noting that while Microsoft has opened the doors to unions, this employee effort was in motion before Microsoft bought ZeniMax. Senior Game Tester Wayne Dayberry told The Associated Press, that the union was in motion prior to 2020 to address issues within the workforce that are common in the video game industry.  

“Throughout the industry, the quality assurance departments are treated poorly, paid very little, and treated as replaceable cogs,” Dayberry told AP. “There’s not a lot of dignity involved in it. That’s something we’re hoping to show people in the industry who are in like situations, that if we can do it, they can do it as well.”

Microsoft’s Position

Microsoft has become the first of the Big Tech companies to embrace the idea of unions. The company stayed out of all voting for or against the union, winning praise from the CWA for doing so:

“They have definitely stood by their word all along,” CWA spokesperson Beth Allen told The Associated Press. “It’s pretty momentous. Microsoft is an outlier in the way tech companies have been behaving.”

Speaking to Gizmodo, Microsoft says, “In light of the results of the recent unionization vote, we recognize the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as the bargaining representative for the Quality Assurance employees at ZeniMax. We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement.”

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