Quality assurance workers at Edmonton, Canada’s Keywords Studios have voted overwhelmingly in favor of unionizing. All 16 workers at the studio voted “yes,” meaning that collective bargaining can now begin.
“Keywords Studios accept the vote of the 16 Edmonton staff who have chosen to unionize,” reads the statement on the company website. “We value our people and will continue to constantly strive to be a good employer. As an organization, we want to ensure an engaging experience for all of our employees, and we take any concerns that our staff have seriously. We will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with all individuals in the Edmonton team, as we move forward together, always learning and improving.”
Workers had begun discussing unionization in March after the studio demanded they return to the office, meaning hundreds of dollars in extra expenses for commuting workers. The workers had already been frustrated by low pay and no paid time off, but the problems/concerns that came with returning to the office really exacerbated these existing issues.
“We all got together and started talking about what it would look like in terms of costs for each of us individually,” said one employee, known simply as James. “We had a choice. We can either try to quit and go find another job, but we love what we do. We don’t want to leave. So we decided to try to form a union to see if we can drive some positive change in our workplace.”
Keywords Studios’ vote comes two weeks after Activision-Blizzard workers formed a union with a 19-3 vote. Labor organizing has really gained traction of late, with video game workers reporting long hours, low pay, and less-than-desirable working conditions.
But, workers have been pushing to change these seemingly cookie-cutter environments by unionizing to create real paradigm shifts in the industry. Luckily for many of them, they haven’t faced too much pushback from the large organizations and executives in the wake of these union votes.
(All information was provided by Polygon)