Thirty-five people voted yes to unionize with International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and four people voted no. The new union includes 42 test associates, software test engineers, and data software analysts in Experis’ Milwaukee office.
Experis workers will soon begin negotiations with Experis leadership. Experis Game Solutions falls under global staffing agency ManpowerGroup; it has other game testing offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona. Microsoft is one of Experis’ more high profile clients, and the Milwaukee office’s testers are focused almost entirely on Microsoft games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Starfield, Halo Infinite, and Forza Motorsport.
Workers are looking to secure “fair pay, benefits and working conditions that respect the workers’ expertise and hard work” with their first union contract. “Improvements in working conditions are essential to reducing employee burnout and to creating sustainable, family supporting jobs in the Milwaukee area community,” according to the IAM news release.
Experis QA workers reportedly came up against an “active anti-union campaign” from ManpowerGroup and Experis. Leadership allegedly threatened to freeze pay and promotions, according to IAM. An Experis representative provided the following statement to Polygon, but did not comment on the union busting allegations:
We respect the right of our consultants to make their own decisions regarding union representation, regardless of whether they vote for or against. No vote could ever change the respect we have for our consultants. Our people are the core of our operations, and we believe that we are at our best as a company when we work together, listen to and learn from each other. Once the vote is certified, we will engage honestly and in good faith and, on behalf of our consultants, we hope the union will do the same.
QA workers are driving the video game industry’s unionization push — their positions are often undervalued and underpaid, and workers want that to change. Blizzard Albany and Raven Software QA workers under Activision Blizzard and 300 ZeniMax QA workers under Microsoft have also unionized. But the movement is spreading beyond QA, too. This year, Sega of America workers in Irvine, California, also voted “yes” to unionize more than 200 roles across the company.
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Experis Game Solutions.