Keywords Studios contractors at BioWare have successfully unionized

Keywords Studios Edmonton (the assembly of Keywords Studios employees mostly doing development support at BioWare Edmonton) is now a unionized company following a unanimous vote by employees.

If you haven’t been following this story, it began when contract employees at BioWare filed to unionize with the Alberta Labour Relations Board with the support of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union under the name “Keywords Edmonton United.” Contractors voting on the union told Game Developer that low wages and a sudden demand to end remote work had spurred them to organize.

After counting the votes, it was found that 16 eligible members had voted “yes,” and zero had voted “no.” Keywords Edmonton United is now entering the bargaining process with Keywords Studios to negotiate a contract.

This is the second major game industry union founded in the last month. Just a few weeks ago, quality assurance workers at Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software also voted to unionize. That election displayed slightly more dissent, with 19 in favor of unionizing and 3 against.

“We are excited to move into bargaining with the employer and start towards a more equitable working situation,” a union spokesperson wrote in an e-mail sent to the press. “We would like to thank UFCW for all their support in helping us through this process and we also would like to thank the brave workers across North America who are fighting for a better workplace, we’re here in solidarity with you.”

We don’t know quite yet if Raven Software and Keywords Studios Edmonton’s new unions are a trend that will continue through 2022, or if this will be where organization momentum peaks this year. BioWare parent company Electronic Arts spent last week grappling with a different form of labor organization, as employees briefly threatened to walk out over the company’s refusal to speak up on growing legislative encroachments on transgender and abortion rights.

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