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Bethesda QA Workers Are Trying To Unionize

More than 300 QA workers at the Microsoft-owned ZeniMax are moving to form a union, after similar initiatives succeeded at Activision Blizzard studios.


A group of more than 300 QA workers at ZeniMax has taken steps towards forming a union with the Communication Workers of America. Per Axios, these QA workers, who work with developers like Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, and several others, represent the largest contingent that have attempted to unionize in the game industry so far.

The announcement of the move, as reported by the New York Times, comes shortly after QA workers at Blizzard Albany won their vote with the NLRB over the objections of owner Activision Blizzard. It would appear to mark a potential sea-change in the gaming industry, where QA workers generally work long hours (especially during crunch) for relatively low pay.

Microsoft previously stated that it will remain neutral regarding ongoing attempts at unionization at Activision, a company that it is currently in the process of buying. It's unclear if Microsoft will take such a hands-off approach at ZeniMax, a company it already owns, but it says it will stay out of the way.

In a statement shared with GameSpot, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "The recent organizing efforts of ZeniMax employees, and Microsoft and ZeniMax's neutrality toward this, are an example of our labor principles in action. We remain committed to providing employees with an opportunity to freely and fairly make choices about their workplace representation."

Microsoft's impending merger with Activision Blizzard may have a substantial impact on how it proceeds with this union election. Regulatory pressure from the US's Federal Trade Commission or EU authorities could cause quite a headache for the platform holder. As the Times notes, the president of the Communications Workers of America offered his support to the deal in a meeting with the FTC earlier this year.

This story has been updated with a statement from Microsoft.

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