Workers at Microsoft’s ZeniMax Studios have formed the company’s first labor union in the US.

Microsoft agreed to recognize the group after a “supermajority” of workers at the video game production company expressed support for the plan, according to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

Popular games owned by ZeniMax include The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

It comes on the heels of a surge in unionization efforts in the United States.

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Apple, Amazon, and Google are among the other US companies that have faced labor disputes in recent years, as employees demand more from employers in the face of rising living costs.

According to the CWA, union campaigns have historically elicited strong corporate opposition.

CWA’s president Chris Shelton said: “Other video games and tech giants have made a conscious choice to attack, undermine, and demoralize their own employees when they join together to form a union,”

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Mr. Shelton said: “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,”.

ZeniMax Studios, the developer of the popular first-person shooter DOOM, is the first studio at Microsoft US to secure union representation and will have the most union-represented quality assurance testers of any US game studio.

The organization will represent approximately 300 quality assurance workers in Maryland and Texas.

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Organizers said they hoped that by forming a union, which allows for collective bargaining on issues such as pay and working conditions, they would be able to improve job opportunities while also reducing unfair pay practices and overwork during crunch times.

By voluntarily agreeing to bargain with unionized employees, Microsoft avoids a formal process supervised by the US National Labor Relations Board, which is frequently followed by legal battles.

The CWA has also participated in unionization campaigns at Activision Blizzard. The company has been fighting the efforts.

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Microsoft announced its plan to buy Activision Blizzard last year, prompting the government to sue to block the transaction due to competition concerns.

Microsoft had agreed with the CWA to remain neutral in labor disputes as part of its efforts to gain support for the merger, which would be one of the largest in the company’s history.

A Microsoft representative declined to speculate on how the new union might impact the company’s operations.

The spokesperson said: “We look forward to engaging in good faith negotiations as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement”

Source: BBC

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