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Zenimax QA workers just formed the largest union in video games

Microsoft voluntarily recognised the union

Bethesda has shown some of Starfield's points-based persuasion system for dialogue, for which there's already more than 250,000 recorded lines.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

In December 2022, quality assurance workers at ZeniMax announced their intention to form a union. The 300 QA workers have now voted "overwhelmingly" to unionise and the union has been voluntarily recognised by ZeniMax owners Microsoft, making ZeniMax Workers United the largest union in the games industry.

As per QA staff at Raven Software and Blizzard Albany before them, ZeniMax Workers United have partnered with the umbrella Communication Workers Of America (CWA) union.

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Unlike those unions, ZeniMax staff did not have to take their fight for a union to the US National Labor Relations Board. Activision Blizzard, owners of Raven Software and Blizzard Albany, refused to voluntarily recognise staff unionisation efforts, prompting a legal fight which ultimately the workers won. ZeniMax is owned by Microsoft, who last year publicly announced a neutrality agreement with the CWA - likely as a way to assuage concerns over their ongoing efforts to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion.

While ZeniMax is best known as Bethesda Softworks former parent company before the Microsoft acquisition, the 300 QA staff employed there work across all related studios - including Arkane, Id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Tango Gameworks and MachineGames.

"We're thrilled to kick off 2023 in a workplace that's stronger and more equitable than it was last year," said ZeniMax QA tester Skylar Hinnant. "This is an empowering victory that allows us to protect ourselves and each other in a way we never could without a union."

In a statement to PC Gamer, Microsoft said that they looked forward "to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement." ZeniMax Workers United is also the first recognised union of Microsoft employees.

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Graham Smith

Deputy Editorial Director

Rock Paper Shotgun's former editor-in-chief and current corporate dad. Also, he continues to write evening news posts for some reason.

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