Days after Raven’s quality control have the green light to advance their union vote, another quality control unit working with a major developer moved to unionize. This time, outside contractors who do Bioware’s quality control have signed up with the Alberta Labor Relations board to form a union. A representative of the group said Games developer that its members could no longer “fight to survive” working on Bioware’s games, and that sentiment was echoed in a similar report by kotaku.
A notice of the Alberta Labor Relations Board’s request was first shared on Reddit several days ago. The quality control unit in question is made up of employees of an external company, Keywords Studios, which has contracted Bioware. These workers contributed to the quality control of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, The Old Republic: Legacy of the Sith and the upcoming Age of Dragon 4and are being represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
In both the Kotaku and Game Developer stories, Quality Assurance representatives at Keywords pointed to the contractor’s return plan as the primary motivator for the union effort. Keywords recently announced that all employees would return to the office full-time on May 9, despite a worrying rate of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta and uncertainty regarding future outbreaks.
In the meantime, Bioware’s full-time staff will continue to be able to flex between working from home and the office. This isn’t the only disparity between the contract and full-time staff: the rep who spoke with Game Developer claimed that Keywords’ contractors had to report to work on days when Bioware’s full-time staff was off duty. , and both reports cited paying close to Canada’s minimum wage of US$15/hr (US$11/hr US) as motivating factors for union formation.
Despite working closely with Bioware on a number of projects, the official who spoke with Game Developer characterized his complaints as being primarily for Keywords, claiming that “Our coworkers at BioWare have treated us very well, but we are obviously limited in our interactions per our contract”.
The workers’ representative speaking to both media outlets seems confident of their ultimate success, and workers only need a simple majority of “yes” votes from their organizing unit to form a union. The Alberta Labor Relations Board is expected to complete its review of the workers’ application by May 3, and if approved, a vote will likely be held shortly thereafter.