A group of contractors who support EA-owned BioWare is trying to unionize. Part of the reason is that they will be asked to return to the office, even as co-located full-time BioWare employees are offered a hybrid work-from-home option, two employees said. the edge.
The organizing group is hired by Keywords Studios, a company that provides services such as QA testing and localization for game development companies. An employee expects the unit to consist of between 15 and 20 people.
These Keywords employees are embedded directly with the BioWare team at the company’s Edmonton, Canada office, and have worked on titles such as Mass Effect Legendary EditionThe newest one Star Wars, The Old Republic expansion and, more recently, dragon age 4. The sources the edge spoke for this article requested anonymity in order to speak openly.
Under the new mandate, Keywords Studios employees will be required to enter the office beginning May 9, employees said. the edge. Kotaku what’s more reported May 9 return to work date.
The group is also rallying around salary and time off issues. Two Keywords Studios employees said the company is starting to pay minimum wage, which is $15 CAD an hour in Alberta (or just under $12), which can be hard to live with. One source claimed that full-time BioWare employees are paid much more and that a previous Keywords Studios employee held a lower-level position at BioWare and is making roughly twice as much money.
“We absolutely want to continue to bring amazing experiences” to fans of BioWare games, an employee said. “It’s just [that] we have to be able to support ourselves.”
Keywords Studios staff also do not receive paid sick days or personal days, according to two staff members.
The Alberta Labor Relations Board is currently reviewing the group’s request to form a bargaining unit to bargain with the company, including determining whether at least 40 percent of people in the prospective union support it. Employees must file any objections to the request by 9 a.m. May 3, but assuming it goes through, employees will be able to vote to form the bargaining unit in a secret ballot. An employee hopes that the votes won’t actually be counted until about a month from the May 3 date and that it will be a mail-in ballot.
Keywords Studios staff have seen what they see as retaliation from management in response to organizing efforts, the sources said. the edge Y Kotaku. “Some of our most outspoken members were sanctioned by the company” shortly after the application was filed last Wednesday, one said.
but the sources the edge spoke with emphasized that they respect their colleagues at BioWare. “BioWare studio workers have treated us very well. We really have nothing bad to say about the people we work with. Obviously it reflects on EA using keywords as a service,” said one. But the actual people in the study “have been pretty good to us.”
Thanks for all the support! As employees of Keywords Studios, we fight for better working conditions and proper recognition of our continued contributions to BioWare projects, and we support everyone else in similar positions to take action!
— KWS Edmonton United (@KWSUnited) April 27, 2022
The organization of the group follows recent union efforts by QA staff at Raven Software, an Activision Blizzard studio known for its work on the Obligations Serie. Raven workers have just received a big win last week when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the unit voting to form a union would be made up of 21 employees rather than the much larger group that Activision Blizzard had advocated.
“Raven Software was actually a huge inspiration for us,” said a Keywords staffer. “We saw, ‘Hey, these guys are also taking on one of the biggest companies out there. We can stand up and do the same.’”
EA and Keywords Studios have not responded to requests for comment.