A union at Keywords
The Tide is Turning
For too long the video game industry has been largely unorganized. For a few years now, several unions have attempted to set up shops in the industry and we are beginning to see the tide turning. The creation of unions in the United States is taking off with campaigns in major studios such as Activision. On our side of the border, even at Keywords, developers working on BioWare projects in the Edmonton studio in Alberta voted unanimously in favor of forming a union.
In the Montreal studios, a union drive is in place. This is our chance to build new alliances and improve our working conditions.
Reasons to Join a Union
- Better salary
- True respect from the employer
- Reduction of overtime (crunch time)
- Group insurance for everyone!
- Appropriate performance evaluation
- Sign a union membership card
- Certification request filed with Quebec Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT)
- The union is officially recognized as bargaining agent
- Negotiation of a collective agreement
Reasons to Join a Union
A better salary
The salaries offered at Keywords are clearly insufficient. With the current rate of inflation and wages not increasing, we are constantly getting poorer. The situation must be corrected. Let’s unionize for better wages.
In Quebec, the average salary of a unionized employee is $27.39/hour compared to $21.17/hour for a non-unionized employee. With these data, the choice is simple: Being unionized pays off!
Respect from the employer
The employer regularly organizes « Floor meetings/general meetings » or « Global town halls » where he answers questions from employees. Do you feel that the comments and questions that affect your working conditions are really taken seriously by the employer?
With a union, the employer has the obligation to bargain in « good faith » with the union. It is only by negotiating a collective agreement that the employer will hear you.
Reduction in overtime (crunch time)
Deliverables in the video game industry put enormous pressure on workers when it comes to closing projects. Although it is obvious that certain situations require us to work overtime, the video game industry does not seem willing to seek solutions to this problem and even glorifies this practice as proof of loyalty and commitment to the employer.
Although jurisdictions differ depending on the location of the studio, the industry does not seem to care about labour laws in Quebec. Here, after 40 hours of work, the employer must pay his employees time and a half their hourly rate.
A union is the best tool to enforce those rights!
Group insurance for everyone!
Group insurance is a very important benefit. It is not normal that you be entitled to it only upon reaching a certain level of employment or classification. It is common for an employee not to have insurance coverage during his/her probation period. However, granting group insurance solely if you are a higher up or through performance assessment makes no logical and is even immoral.
Performance evaluation and favoritism
Performance evaluations are sometimes based on dubious criteria. Being evaluated according to the number of new « bugs » detected depends absolutely on the project the employee is working on and its progress. At some point, there are just less and less « bugs ».
This practice makes absolutely no sense considering these evaluations impact fundamental aspects of our working conditions such as promotion, salary and access to group insurance!
This leaves room for favoritism in the workplace. A negotiated collective agreement establishes promotion mechanisms that seek to make the promotion process fairer for all. A healthy workplace is where the rules are clear and known by all!
Sign a union membership card
In Quebec, the only way to show support for the Union is by signing a membership form. You can now complete it online at the following address:
Signing a union membership card is a personal decision and is 100% confidential. Under no circumstances can the employer know who signed cards to join the union. The Quebec Labor Code guarantees that confidentiality.
Even if you are not a Canadian citizen, whether you are an immigrant, hold a work or student permit, all workers have the right to join a union and to a full and complete defense of their working conditions. If you have any questions about your status, do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
As a condition for setting up a union, the Quebec Labour Code states that for a request for membership be considered, a person must pay a contribution of $2.
Certification request to the Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal (TAT)
The union compiles the membership applications and when it considers that it has sufficient support, it files a formal request to the Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal, known by its French acronym “TAT”. From that moment, the TAT analyzes the union’s filing to validate whether a majority of employees support the process. There are three possible scenarios.
If the union gets the support of 50%+1 of all employees, the union is officially certified, and we move on to the next step.
If the union gets the support of more than 35% of the employees but less than 50%, the TAT organizes a secret ballot among all the employees covered by the filling.
If the union obtains the support of less than 35%, the status quo remains in the company and there is no union.
The union is now created
Once the union has a majority, it is officially created and recognized by law. The employer has an obligation to recognize the union, which will have to set up a structure, elect its representatives and begin the process that leads to obtaining a collective agreement.
Negotiation of the collective labor contract
The employer is obligated by law to negotiate in “good faith” with the union a collective agreement. The latter sets working conditions such as salaries, vacation time, job allocation, group insurance or any other working conditions that will be duly negotiated between the parties.
The union will survey employees to set priorities for what we want to see included in this agreement. It is through negotiation with the employer that we will obtain what will constitute the collective agreement.
Following this negotiation, the committee representing the employees will present the results of the bargaining with the employer who will decide to adopt or reject the result of this negotiation.
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