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Game workers in Quebec are making a huge unionization push

Game Workers Unite Montreal has joined forces with Canadian trade union CSN to help workers establish unions at major studios in the region.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read
Artwork from a GWU zine showing a parade of pro-union Animal Crossing characters
Image via GWU

Video game workers in Quebec are attempting to kickstart a mass unionization drive across the entire region.

As reported by Polygon, workers that have already rallied behind the Game Workers Unite Montreal banner have partnered with Canadian trade union Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) in a bid to establish unions at many of the major studios located in the area.

GWU Montreal claims 15,000 video game workers currently ply their trade across Quebec at companies including Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Games, EA, Gameloft, and more.

Labor rights group GWU Montreal isn't a union itself, but has spent years providing assistance and advice to workers looking to unionize. Now, it hopes to expand its efforts by working alongside CSN in Quebec to provide more resources to members and help them join individual unions tied to individual studios. Those unions will then be able to negotiate with their own employers, pushing for better working conditions.

"Solidarity between studios" a major CSN goal

CSN president Caroline Senneville said the new structure will "ensure the development of solidarity between studios" by allowing workers to share collective knowledge and work towards common goals.

"Union members will be able to collectively decide on which demands rally around, all while guaranteeing autonomy to its local components. A province-wide union gives a greater balance of power to the workers as they form a bigger group. This will benefit all, but especially small studios," she told Polygon.

The CSN website claims some of the advantages of joining a labor union include the ability to negotiate better wages and retirement plans, secure group and family insurance, foster better and safer working conditions, and push for greater job security.

"Showing solidarity, together, regardless of our income, our job or our field of expertise, is to raise a movement that influences policies and concretely changes the quality of life of all CSN members and of society as a whole," adds Senneville in a blurb on the CSN webpage.

One game worker involved in the renewed organization effort claimed the partnership between GWU Montreal and CSN is a chance to take the fight for better working conditions to a "larger platform."

"If the industry continues to go the way it’s been going these last few years with studio closures and game projects being canceled because of mass layoffs, it's going to be a big loss for players," they told Polygon. "It's in players' interest to educate themselves about how a game is made. Who is making games, and in what condition? It’s a creative industry, and the industry lies on workers' backs."

Earlier this year Game Developer spoke to a number of union members and advocates from around the world (including Canada) to learn more about the value of collective action in an industry that's becoming increasingly hostile. You can read our in-depth report here.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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