The game industry’s year of unionizing continues, as 16 QA workers at Keywords Studios, a team that has done support work for studios like Mass Effect developer BioWare, have unanimously voted to unionize.
The Edmonton-based company posted on its website that the union was voted on and recognized today, June 6, and is part of an “ongoing dialogue” between leadership and the QA department.
“Keywords Studios accept the vote of the 16 Edmonton staff who have chosen to unionize. We value our people and will continue to constantly strive to be a good employer. As an organization we want to ensure an engaging experience for all of our employees, and we take any concerns that our staff have seriously. We will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with all individuals in the Edmonton team, as we move forward together, always learning and improving.”
James, one of the workers who voted to unionize, told Polygon in a statement that the workers are “ecstatic” about this outcome, and that it will help the QA team bargain for better benefits, salaries, and more.
“We all got together and started talking about what it would look like in terms of costs for each of us individually,” James told the outlet. “We had a choice. We can either try to quit and go find another job, but we love what we do. We don’t want to leave. So we decided to try to form a union to see if we can drive some positive change in our workplace.”
Keywords’ Edmonton QA team’s attempts to unionize began back in April with an application to the Alberta Labor Relations Board with United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union as a representative. This was brought on by Keywords asking workers to return to the office, adding to issues of low pay by bringing in new commuting costs. Keywords Studios’ website lists multiple companies across the industry as clients, including some high profile names from Bandai Namco to Ubisoft. However, the Edmonton QA team has recently helped with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a remastered collection of the original Mass Effect trilogy.
This comes about two weeks since Raven Software’s QA team also voted to unionize in May, but parent company Activision Blizzard has continued to find ways to try and deter its employees from unionizing and leadership insists it can sort out its various workplace culture issues by itself.