Microsoft-Owned Company Votes to Unionize

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. January 6, 2023
A Microsoft building

​Employees at a Microsoft-owned game maker, ZeniMax Media, voted to unionize, the Communication Workers of America announced Jan. 3. Microsoft, which was neutral during the union drive, has recognized the result. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Microsoft Statement

"We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work toward a collective bargaining agreement," the company said. Microsoft has no other unionized workers.

(The New York Times)

Motivations for Organizing

Quality assurance testers at ZeniMax led the union drive, saying such issues as low wages and long hours were factors behind organizing. "We have people working multiple jobs to make ends meet. We have people who spend two or three hours a day commuting because they can't afford to live near the office," said a ZeniMax senior tester. "[W]e never really know when the crunch ends."

(The Washington Post)

Union's Size

The new union will have approximately 300 game testers from ZeniMax's studios in Maryland and Texas.

Microsoft's neutral stance let the ZeniMax union certification go through a third-party arbitrator rather than the lengthier process usually overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

(Axios) and (The Seattle Times)

Microsoft's Stance on Unions Is Uncharacteristic in Tech Industry

In June 2022, Microsoft said it would work with any unions that organize within the company, making it an outlier in the tech industry. Amazon has contested workers' efforts to unionize, for example. Microsoft said it would support workers at Activision Blizzard Inc. who organized last year, should its acquisition of that company close.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Amazon Union Vote Near Albany, N.Y., Fails

In October 2022, Amazon defeated a union vote—this time near Albany, N.Y.—following a successful union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., earlier this year. Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said, "We're glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon, as we think that is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers."

(SHRM Online) and (CNBC)



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