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Microsoft recognizes its first union in the United States

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  • Microsoft has recognized its first U.S. union, the Communications Workers of America announced Tuesday.
  • About 300 workers at ZeniMax Studios, a Microsoft subsidiary, voted to unionize in December.
  • Microsoft said it respected its employees’ “legal right” to form or join a union last year.

Microsoft has recognized its first union in the United States, after an overwhelming majority of video game testers at ZeniMax Studios voted to unionize, the Communications Workers of America union announced Tuesday.

According to Reuters, about 300 software testers at four ZeniMax locations in Maryland and Texas voted to unionize.

ZeniMax is a video game production company popular for its games like The Elder Scrolls and DOOM, and was acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in March 2021.

Workers at the Microsoft subsidiary had been organizing for months and began signing union permission cards in November 2022. The formal voting process began on December 2 through a confidential online portal and ended on December 31st.

“We want to end sudden periods of shortages, unfair wages and lack of growth opportunities within the company. Our union will push for a truly competitive wage, better communication between management and workers, a clear path for those who want to advance their careers, and more,” said Victoria Banos, senior audio quality assurance tester at ZeniMax in the CWA statement.

Microsoft has agreed to voluntarily recognize the union if workers vote to unionize in December, according to Reuters. It was a first for the company in the United States.

“Other gaming and tech giants made a conscious choice to attack, undermine and demoralize their own employees when they banded together to form a union,” said CWA President Chris Shelton, in the release.

“Microsoft is charting a different course that will strengthen its corporate culture and its ability to serve its customers and should serve as a model for the industry and a role model for regulators.”

Microsoft said it respected the “legal right of its employees to choose to join or form a union,” in 2022 after Activision Blizzard’s quality assurance workers formed a union. Microsoft was acquiring Activision in a $69 billion deal at the time.

Companies often choose to recognize unions voluntarily to avoid legal problems. Unionized workers can apply to the National Labor Relations Board to force their employer to recognize their union, but the process is long and arduous.

Microsoft and ZeniMax Studios did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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