A union at Keywords
The wind is turning
For too long the video game industry has been largely unorganized. For a few years now, several unions have been set up in the industry. Currently, we observe that the tide is 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 unionization campaign is in place. This is our chance to build new alliances and improve our working conditions.
Reasons to unionize
1. Better salary
2. A complete attention from the employer
3. Reduction of overtime (crunch time)
4. Group insurance for everyone!
5. Performance evaluation
1. Sign a union membership card
2. Official request to the Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT)
3. The union is now created
4. Negotiation of the collective employment contract
Reasons to unionize
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 remedied. 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!
For a complete attention from the employer
The employer regularly organizes « Floor meetings/general meetings » or « Global town halls » where he answers questions from the employees. Do you feel that the comments and questions that affect your working conditions are really taken into consideration by the employer?
With a union, the employer is obligated 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 pressure on the industry worker when closing projects. Although it is obvious that certain situations require workers to have to work overtime, the video game industry does not seem to seek solutions to this problem and even values this practice as proof of loyalty and commitment to the employer.
Although labor jurisdictions differ depending on the location of the studio, the industry does not seem to care about the laws in Quebec. After 40 hours of work, the employer must pay his employees time and a half.
A union is the best tool to enforce these rights!
Group insurance for everyone!
Group insurance is a very important employment benefit. It is not normal for the latter to be accessible only upon reaching a certain level of employment. It is common in workplaces for an employee not to benefit from insurance during a probationary period. However, tying access to insurance to a level of employment that is acquired through performance makes no logical or moral sense.
Performance evaluations are sometimes based on dibious 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 no sens considering that these dubious evaluations impact fundamental aspects of our working conditions such as salary and access to group insurance.
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:
This membership is 100% confidential. Under no circumstances can the employer be aware of the members. The Quebec Labor Code provides the confidentiality of the process.
It should also be noted that the Code provides that for a membership to be considered, the person must pay a contribution of $2.
Official request to the Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT)
The union compiles the membership applications and when it considers that it has sufficient support, it makes a formal request to the Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT). From that moment, the TAT analyzes the union’s request to validate whether a majority of employees support the process. There are three possible scenarios.
If the union obtains the support of 50%+1 of all employees, the union is officially created and we move on to the next step.
If the union obtains the support of more than 35% of the employees but less than 50%, the Tribunal organizes a vote among all the employees
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 your representatives and begin the process that leads to obtaining a collective agreement.
Negotiation of the collective labor contract
The employer is obliged by law to negotiate in “good faith” with the union a collective agreement. The latter provides for a multitude of working conditions. It provides for salaries, vacations, job allocation, group insurance or any other working conditions that will be duly negotiated between the parties.
The union surveys 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 employment contract.
Following this negotiation, the decision rests with the members to adopt or reject the result of this negotiation.
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