300 quality assurance staff members at Zenimax, the holding company for the likes of Bethesda Softworks, Arkane Studios, and id Software, have unionised with the Communications Workers of America.
Following a four-week election process, should the majority of workers support unionisation, Microsoft, who purchased Zenimax for $7.5bn in 2021, will recognise the union.
The company has also pledged to remain neutral throughout this process. "We applaud Microsoft for remaining neutral through this process and letting workers decide for themselves whether they want a union," said CWA president Christopher Shelton.
Indeed, the company has instructed Zenimax managers to remain neutral throughout the process (thanks, Kotaku).
This contrasts starkly with Activision Blizzard's public attempts at suppressing unionisation inside its company.
Today we, a majority of QA workers at ZeniMax, are proud to announce the launch of our union with @CWAunion. We are the first group of workers at Microsoft to formally unionize. We are empowered to advocate for ourselves & build a future where we can thrive alongside the company— ZeniMax Workers United - CWA (@ZeniMaxWorkers) December 5, 2022
Separately, it is for this very reason that the CWA has publicly announced its support for Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, Shelton argued that Microsoft's neutrality agreement with the union meant that the merger would allow workers at Activision to unionise freely. This acquisition then, in Shelton's view, will be beneficial to workers.
"Labour considerations have for too long been absent from antitrust decisions even though the potential harms to workers as the result of mergers are evident," said Shelton.
In related news, an op-ed by Microsoft president Brad Smith confirmed that Microsoft has offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.