Quality assurance (QA) workers from Edmonton, Canada’s Keywords Studios have unanimously voted to become the country’s first video game union.
Keywords is under contract to fellow Edmonton studio, BioWare, and provides support on franchises including Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Keywords’ 16 employees will band together to form the third union of its type in North America, organised under the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union, Local No. 401.
“We’re ecstatic,” Keywords’ James Russwurm, told Polygon.
“We’re super happy. It will assist us going forward into bargaining that the whole team is completely united on this effort.”
Keywords’ actions are in response to degrading working conditions including low pay, and a lack of paid time off.
“Most of our starter workers, so our entry-level people, they start at Alberta minimum wage, which is about $15 an hour,” Russwurm explained to the CBC.
“With the rising costs of rent and food and gas and everything, we had a lot of members who were pushed up against the wall say: ‘I can’t really afford to work here anymore or if I want to.’ “Plus, we were going to be having to go back into the office five days a week. So with the cost of parking downtown and the gas prices and everything, it was just going to become unlivable for a lot of our members.”
Keywords’ actions follow the formation of a union by QA workers from Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software last month.
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