Microsoft Video Game Studios in Texas Maryland Vote to Unionize / Public News Service

For decades, many in the video game industry have objected to low pay, poor working conditions and discrimination. Now, some people at Microsoft – including in Texas – are unionizing, and the technology giant is recognizing the alliance.

A supermajority of quality assurance workers at the company’s ZeniMax Studios have agreed they want the Communication Workers of America to represent them.

Dylan Burton is a senior quality and assurance tester in Dallas. He said his group has historically been underpaid.

“We need to make more to be able to afford to live in the areas where our studios are based and to be able to have a reasonable quality of life,” said Burton. “There’s a lot of people who are unable to do that.”

By voluntarily agreeing to bargain, Microsoft will avoid a formal process overseen by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.

The CWA will represent roughly 300 quality assurance workers at ZeniMax offices in Texas and Maryland.

Organizers hope a union, which allows collective bargaining over issues such as pay and working conditions, will improve their situation.

Burton said he is encouraged to see younger Americans in various jobs trying to unionize.

“I hope that it continues,” said Burton. “That’s like my ideal outcome. Obviously I want our situation to improve, but if it goes beyond that and helps other people too – we’re really doing something important.”

Microsoft purchased the ZeniMax Studio Group, which owns games such as Doom and Fallout, for $7.5 billion in 2020.

ZeniMax is the first studio at Microsoft to secure union representation, and will boast the largest group of union-represented quality assurance testers at any U.S. game studio, according to CWA.

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