Keywords Edmonton says ‘Game Over’ for video game testers trying to fight for better

EDMONTON, Oct. 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Recently unionized videogame testers working at Keywords Studios in Edmonton have been laid off from their employer amidst the fight to win a fair first collective agreement.

Sixteen video game testers from Keywords Studios Edmonton vote unanimously in favour of joining UFCW Canada Local 401 in the summer of 2022 – making history by becoming the first video gaming industry workers to unionize in Canada. The team had previously worked on quality assurance and testing for industry heavyweight BioWare, owned by Electronic Arts.

At the time of unionizing the workers cited low wages, lack of benefits such as sick pay, and health and safety concerns amongst a forced return to the office during the pandemic.

Workers at Keywords Studios have spent over a year trying to bargain a fair first collective agreement before the shocking news that BioWare had cancelled the contract with Keyword Studios Edmonton subsequentially laying off unionized staff.

“The company should explore more avenues to pivot this talented team to other projects rather than issue lay-off notices as they continue to seek a fair contract,” says UFCW Canada Western Regional Director and lead negotiator Pablo Godoy. “This group loves the work that they do and the industry that they work in. We are simply asking for fairness from the employer so that they can continue to help create entertainment experiences for all to enjoy.”

“We are obviously saddened by the turn of events but we stand committed to finishing our contract negotiations with Keywords Studios,” says James Russwurm, a worker at Keywords Edmonton and a member of the union negotiation committee. "These negotiations have highlighted a lot of new and evolving issues in the workplace like remote work and we want to keep leading the way in fighting for the rights of people who work in this industry."

To help bring fairness to the workers at Keywords Studios in Edmonton, UFCW Canada is launching a new campaign where activists and concerned members of the public can send a letter to the CEOs of Keywords Studios, BioWare and parent company Electronic Arts calling for fairness for their unionized staff. To send a letter, click here.

As Canada's leading union for retail and food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) represents over 250,000 workers across the country working in the food retail and processing, agriculture, health care, security, and hospitality industries, as well as other sectors of the economy. UFCW Canada is the country's most innovative organization dedicated to building fairness in workplaces and communities.


Pablo Godoy

Western Canada Director

UFCW Canada, United Food and Commercial Workers Union

Phone: 403-542-2366