Dragon Age: Dreadwolf QA Testers Unanimously Vote To Unionize
The union is a first for Canada's video game industry.
Quality assurance testers in Edmonton, Canada who have provided support on BioWare games like Mass Effect Legendary Edition and the upcoming Dragon Age: Dreadwolf have formed Canada's first video game labor union.
All 16 contractors, who are employed through a contracting company called Keywords Studios, voted in support of unionizing on June 6. The formation of the union, KWS Edmonton United, came after Keyword Studios stated contractors would be required to return to BioWare's Edmonton office starting on May 9, as well as a response to low pay. Keywords Studios did eventually shelve its back-to-office requirement, but KWS Edmonton United workers are hoping to use the union to increase pay for QA contractors at the company above its current base rate of about $13 an hour.
BREAKING! We’ve received the results of our vote count and we have UNANIMOUSLY voted 16-0 and will be forming a union. More details incoming, so follow for updates. ✊— KWS Edmonton United (@KWSUnited) June 6, 2022
KWS Edmonton United will now start bargaining with Keywords Studios over benefits and pay. According to an email seen by Kotaku, KWS Edmonton gave thanks to the "brave workers across North America who are fighting for a better workplace," and pledged solidarity with workers looking to unionize.
KWS Edmonton is the latest video game union to form in the past few weeks, with QA testers at the Activision Blizzard owned Raven Software also recently voting to unionize. The organization of Raven QA testers, who provide support for the Call of Duty franchise, came in the wake of numerous QA testers being laid off by Activision Blizzard and in response to low pay. That resulted in a month-long strike by members of the Raven QA team. Activision Blizzard recently converted over 1,000 QA workers from part-time to full-time positions and in the process increased pay for QA positions, but excluded the Raven QA workers that sought to unionize.
The Raven Software QA union also comes as Activision Blizzard still deals with the fallout from an ongoing state of California lawsuit describing an alleged "fratboy" work place culture rife with sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard is currently in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, which has announced that it will voluntarily recognize unions at the company going forward.
As for BioWare, it recently announced the official name of the long in-the-works Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, which will likely center around the character of Solas. Additional details are scarce despite BioWare announcing the game back in 2018, but BioWare says more details about the game will be revealed this year.
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