Microsoft recognizes its first union as ZeniMax software game testers organize, joining a rising trend.

Microsoft said this Tuesday that it has recognized its first union of employees in the software maker’s 47-year history.

In recent months three groups of employees at video game publisher Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft is working to acquire, have unionized, but Microsoft has yet to complete the nearly $69 billion deal. Competition regulators have pushed back on the deal due to the size of the acquisition, and is being reviewed by several government bodies around the world for antitrust concerns.

Last week, the Communications Workers of America, part of the AFL_CIO, said a supermajority of employees at Proletariat, a Boston-based game studio Activision Blizzard acquired for $8B in mid-2022, had voted to unionize. Now U.S. quality-assurance employees (QA), an entry level position, will have union protection. 300 QA testers overwhelmingly voted in favor of their union, and are the largest group of testers in gaming according to CWA.

Ashe Myers, a QA tester and part of the organizing committee for the union said: “It was a lot of reasons. Low pay, forced overtime, little to no transparency with departmental changes and return to office. No word on COVID infections in-office.”

ZeniMax publishes “Doom,” “Fallout,” “Quake” and “The Elder Scrolls,” among other top-selling games.

Last year, QA testers at Raven Software, a development studio that works under the Activision Blizzard umbrella and which recently has been testing the Call of Duty: Warzone game, voted to form their own union. This was in 20221 and took weeks of striking to achieve. The vote was historic, and ushered in the first major video game union in the United StatesBeast Breaker developer Vodeo Games was the first VG maker to unionize, however they are a small indie company.

“Microsoft has lived up to its commitment to its workers and let them decide for themselves whether they want a union,” CWA President Chris Shelton said. “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.”

Workers at airlines, automakers, schools and in government all belong to unions, but collective bargaining hasn’t made much progress at technology companies prior to developments like these.

Amazon and Apple have not been especially helpful to employees who have tried to establish unions. Last year, Microsoft said it would support approaches that would make it simpler for its employees to join unions.

The Communications Workers of America also represents employees at telecom companies like Verizon and media companies like The New York Times and NBC.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.