BioWare support studio Keywords has changed its mind about a controversial policy that required contractors to return to the office. Just as other full-time employees can continue to work from home, so too can contractors.
The Verge reports that Keyword contractors received an email from management confirming they make work from home "until further notice." Keywords contractors were previously expected to return to in-office work on May 9. The studio provides QA testing and localization services to Dragon Age developer BioWare, and has previously worked on Mass Effect: Andromeda as well as Anthem.
Last month, reports surfaced that Keywords was to hold a unionization vote amidst low pay and rising cost of living. In interviews, contractors stated they were "struggling to make ends meet" due to low wages while non-contracted employees made double their salary. Contractors were also not invited to social events and were required to work at BioWare’s Edmonton office even as non-contractors and BioWare employees continued to work from home.
That last point proved to be a major reason for Keywords contractors to petition the Alberta Labor Relations Board for a unionization vote. That petition was accepted, and Keywords contractors are now voting by mail-in ballot to form a union.
Additionally, the Alberta Labor Relations Board expanded Keywords’ vote to include “all employees” working in Alberta rather than just those supporting development at BioWare Edmonton. This will increase the vote by two more ballots.
A similar unionization vote is underway at Raven Software where QA testers have been fighting for representation for months. Activision has seemingly spared no expense to prevent a union from forming at Raven, even allegedly telling contractors that voting to unionize could impede game development and affect promotions and pay.
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