Friday, September 22, 2023

BioWare QA team votes unanimously to form a union

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A team of quality assurance (QA) contractors working closely with BioWare, an EA-owned studio, voted unanimously (16 to 0) to form a union† The workers are employed by the Edmonton, Canada-based branch of Keywords Studios, which means they the country’s first union in the game industry

Signs of unionization first emerged in April, with the contractors citing a requirement to return to work in the office — even when other full-time BioWare employees were given the opportunity to work from home — as one of the reasons behind their decision. to get organized. Keywords Studios has since reversed this policy and is giving all employees a hybrid work-from-home option. The employees also object to Keywords’ leave policy and wages, which reportedly start at $15 CAD (about $12 USD) – minimum wage in Canada.

A statement on Keywords Studios’ site, the company says employees’ choice to join a union. “As an organization, we want to provide an engaging experience for all our employees, and we take all of our employees’ concerns seriously,” the statement read. “We will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with all individuals on the Edmonton team as we move forward together, always learning and improving.”

The contractors now organized have worked on a number of BioWare titles, such as: Legendary Mass Effect Edition and a Star Wars The Old Republic extension. They are currently working on the upcoming Dragon Age: Dreadwolf

“While the Edmonton Keywords Studios employees union does not include BioWare employees, we want to make it clear that at EA we respect the process and employees’ right to choose,” said Lacey Haines, EA’s director of corporate communications in a statement. . †

The union marks a milestone in Canada and follows recent pressure on video game workers to join a union. Vodeo Games studio workers voted to unionize in a first for video game studios in North America last December, with QA staff from Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software in May.

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