Edmonton – November 28, 2023 – UFCW 401 striking video game workers have garnered international attention in the gaming industry due to their demands for Fair Play for all workers in the industry.
The UFCW 401 workers at Keywords Studios were laid off in September amidst negotiations to achieve a first collective agreement. The team had joined UFCW 401 in Summer 2022 – making history by becoming the first ever workers in Canada’s videogame industry to form a union in their workplace. The team had previously worked on quality assurance and testing for industry heavyweight BioWare, owned by Electronic Arts.
On November 7, the UFCW 401 workers at Keywords Studios held a rally outside of the BioWare offices at Epcor Tower in downtown Edmonton. The Alberta Labour Relations board had ruled in favour of the striking workers, declining the employer’s attempt to block them from striking outside the BioWare HQ.
November 7 is known as N7 Day in the Mass Effect and BioWare community, a reference to the popular Mass Effect franchise, and groups of former BioWare workers started up a hashtag — #N7SeveranceDay — for fans to use for support. The November 7 rally in Edmonton drew international attention from videogame publications to the striking workers, including PC Gamer, USA Today, Game Developer, Kotaku, Game Reactor EU, Polygon, and more.
The striking workers at Keywords Edmonton are a part of a growing movement called Fair Play 4 Game Workers. Fair Play is comprised of professionals working in the video game industry across the globe, labour advocates, and concerned gamers, who are advocating for change in the industry to better benefit workers.
Stand in solidarity with the Keywords Studios members: send a message to the CEOs of Keywords Studios, BioWare and Electronic Arts calling for fairness for their unionized staff.