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Video Game Testers Form Microsoft's First Union

The tech giant promised to recognize unions formed by employees in June as part of its effort to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft logo on a tablet screen
Sarah Tew/CNET

A group of video game testers working for Microsoft-owned ZeniMax has voted to form the tech giant's first union, the Communication Workers of America union said Tuesday.

The CWA, which represents the union, said Microsoft will recognize the union as part of a promise Microsoft made to the CWA in June to recognize unions formed by employees. Microsoft acquired ZeniMax, the parent company of game developer Bethesda, which develops the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, in 2021 for $7.5 billion.

Microsoft confirmed that it's recognizing the new union. "We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement," the company said in a statement.

The video game workers' efforts to unionize are happening while the Federal Trade Commission attempts to block Microsoft from purchasing Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, arguing that the merger will harm competition among game console makers. 

CWA President Chris Shelton said that by agreeing to recognize the union, Microsoft is distancing itself from other tech companies that have actively fought against employees' efforts to unionize.

"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," Shelton said in a statement.

Recognition of the union comes a little more than a week after dozens of video game employees at Proletariat video game studio, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2022, filed for union representation. That is the third unionization push that Activision has faced in the past year. Raven Software employees organized in January, and employees at Blizzard Albany voted to unionize in December.