SAG-AFTRA’s Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Says Video Game Talks Are Over ‘the Same Fight’ as Studio Strike

“It’s all about treating workers who bring their creativity and make these companies’ success possible with some basic respect,” the chief negotiator says

Striking actors and writers picket Netflix in Los Angeles in July 2023. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images)
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While all eyes are on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike against Hollywood studios within the AMPTP, the guild is also facing a potential strike against the video game industry, which SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland notes is a “connected fight.”

“It’s the same fight that we’re having in TV, theatrical and streaming [negotiations],” Crabtree-Ireland said during a SAG-AFTRA Instagram Live on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s all about treating workers who bring their creativity and make these companies’ success possible with some basic respect and making sure that they are not abused either economically or through unfair use of AI or through unsafe practices on set.”

In addition to a similar sentiment surrounding protecting SAG-AFTRA members across industries, the specific issues at hand in negotiations with video game companies also resemble points that guild is seeking from the AMPTP, including fair pay and protections against AI.

“The issues affecting the voice actors and performance capture artists who bring the multibillion dollar video game industry to life are very, very similar to the issues that are affecting our members who work on the TV, theatrical and streaming contracts,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “Those video game industry employers are continuing to fail to meet our members needs in key areas related to compensation, to safety and to protections from AI technology.”

After the SAG-AFTRA board voted unanimously to submit a vote for strike authorization to its members against video game companies in early September, SAG-AFTRA members have until Monday to vote on the strike authorization.

“The stronger a strike authorization vote we have — the more power and leverage we have going into bargaining — the easier it is for us to reach a deal without a strike,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “It’s kind of ironic, the stronger the strike authorization that we have the less likely it is that we’re going to actually need to go on strike.”

“We all want a fair contract that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in an industry that delivers world-class entertainment to billions of players around the world. We are negotiating in good faith and hope to reach a mutually beneficial deal as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the video game producers party to the Interactive Media Agreement.

Should the guild end up having to strike against video game companies, the chief negotiator said “the strike is going to last just exactly how long it takes for them to come back to the table with a different kind of mindset.”

Like the union’s strike against the AMPTP, Crabtree-Ireland suggested a potential strike against video game companies would also have interim agreements for independent video game companies.

“I do anticipate that we might offer interim agreements in this area like we’ve done in TV, theatrical and streaming,” he said. “And so there may be independent video game companies that will choose to enter into interim agreements with us if we approve those.”

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, read here.