BioWare contractors who do QA work on Mass Effect and more want a union

Keywords Studios workers, who have in the past supported BioWare’s quality assurance (QA) efforts, are heading towards unionization according to Canadian filings. Polygon confirmed the filing with the Alberta Labor Relations Board on Monday.

An account called KeywordsUnitedYEG posted a review of Alberta from Reddit forum, also on Monday, noting that workers had organized under the United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada, Local 401 become the certified bargaining agent for a unit of employees of BC Studios This means that the next Mass Effect or Dragon Age game could possibly be tested by unionized workers.

According to its website, Keywords is a company that provides “long-term, cost-effective video game testing solutions” to other developers. It lists BioWare, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Google, Intel, Sony, and Square Enix among its partners. According to the company’s official website, it provided quality assurance for the most recent Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles, which are BioWare’s most successful series.

This is another step forward for organizing in the games industry, as some studios seek to unionize even in the face of resistance from publishers and management. Raven Software, a QA support studio that worked on the popular Call of Duty franchise, is also in the early stages of a unionization effort.

Polygon has reached out to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada, Local #401, as well as Keywords, BioWare, and Electronic Arts for additional comment.

Maria D. Ervin