Mass Effect Keyword Studios

BioWare QA Devs Keywords Studios Vote to Unionize

Keywords Studios’ has voted in favour of a union

Video game quality assurance employees at the Edmonton-based Keywords Studios’ have voted to unionize.

The motion was filed on April 20 with the election ending in a unanimous decision of 16-0 in favour of a union. This decision came after the studio applied to the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

On the Keywords Studios website, a statement was released:

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.

This whole situation began when the studio learned of a mandatory return-to-work order (that was eventually rescinded once the union talks began). As an auxiliary studio for BioWare, Keywords learned that BioWare was given far more options and flexibility to work.

The other issue that incited the studio to unionize was compensation. Employees mentioned pay discrepancies between the testers and it’s around the minimum $15 per hour Alberta offers. It’s hard to argue that $15 is a living wage anymore given the exorbitant inflation and rising costs of living the world are seeing today. And when compared to what BioWare employees were making, it was low for the work being done.

Raven Software recently won a unionizing vote at the studio, sending out a message to employees and workers around the industry. In related news, Microsoft said Raven Software the union at Raven when the Activision Blizzard acquisition is complete.