The company that employs a group of BioWare contractors trying to unionize has reversed a policy requiring workers to return to the office, according to an internal email viewed by The edge† The return to office policy was one of the main reasons why the contractors, who are based in Edmonton, Canada, and employed by the development support company Keywords Studios, started organizing. Full-time BioWare employees will be offered a hybrid work-from-home option, Keywords Studios employees said The edge†
Previously, Keywords Studios employees who worked at BioWare’s Edmonton office were expected to return to the office today, May 9. But in an email sent Friday, they were told to “keep working from home until further notice.” Keywords Studios did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Alberta Labor Relations Board has also officially ordered a union vote by postal ballot, according to a report seen by The edge† The board also recommended expanding the potential negotiating unit from all Keywords Studios employees “working in development support at the BioWare Edmonton office” to “all employees.”
According to a Keywords Studios employee associated with the organization, the revised description would only apply to employees of Keywords Studios in Alberta and means that two additional employees who do not work with BioWare will receive ballots. The size of the negotiating unit is expected to be between 15 and 20 people. Completed ballots remain sealed until the size of the negotiating unit is established.
Keywords Studios provides services such as quality assurance testing and localization for game developers. BioWare’s Edmonton team staff have worked on titles such as Legendary Mass Effect Editionthe last Star Wars The Old Republic extension, and dragon age 4. The group’s union efforts follow on from other union organizations in the game industry, such as Raven Software QA employees who are allowed to hold union elections.