SAG-AFTRA’s membership has authorized its negotiators to call a strike against the video game industry, the union said Wednesday, in hopes that it will jump-start contract talks that have been stalled since June.
At stake is the union’s share of the $20 billion that the video game industry is expected to generate this year. EA Games, Activision, Disney and Warner Bros., along with recording studios such as Blindlight and Formosa are on the other side of the table.
The vote gives union leaders a significant bargaining chip when they return to the table. If future talks fail to produce an agreement, leaders would be able to call a strike without another vote.
“With this result in hand,” the union said, “the Negotiating Committee will seek to return to the bargaining table and continue to press for a fair resolution on behalf of performers working in video games.”
The Interactive Media agreement expired on Dec. 31, and bargaining sessions held in February and June failed to produce an agreement.
“We’ve been through two rounds of negotiations with our employers, and they’ve rejected every proposal we’ve made,” the union said on its website. It says the companies’ proposals “are completely without precedent in the entertainment industry, and we believe they are reckless and ill-advised.”
SAG-AFTRA said the management proposals would allow the companies to hire their own employees to play characters in video games without having to join the union, offer a reduction in fees that would “roll back the gains we’ve made in previous contracts” and issue $2,500 fines against actors who are not “attentive to the services for which they have been engaged.”