By an overwhelming 98.32%, members of SAG-AFTRA have voted to authorize a strike if talks for a new contract with video game companies are unsuccessful, the guild announced Monday.
As always, the vote doesn’t mean a strike is imminent, only that members have empowered guild leaders to declare a strike without being required to seek further permission, giving them additional leverage in talks.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in video games. We have reached tentative agreements on over half of the proposals and are optimistic we can find a resolution at the bargaining table,” said a spokesperson speaking on behalf of video game companies covered by the Interactive Media Agreement with the guild.
For nearly a year, SAG-AFTRA has been involved in negotiations for a new contract for voice actors, stunt actors, motion capture, and other performers who work on video games.
The negotiations have taken place with five video game companies — Activision, Epic Games, Insomniac, WB Games, and Electronic Arts — as well as video game production companies Take 2, Formosa Interactive, Blindlight, VoiceWork Productions, and Disney Character Voices.
The move comes as the guild remains on strike against Hollywood studios over issues that, according to guild leaders, are effectively identical to those facing actors in the video game industry. Among the common causes between video game and TV/theatrical performers are a demand for higher wages to counter the rate of inflation and proper consent and compensation for AI-generated replicas of performers.
“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract. The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies — which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly — to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career,” guild President Fran Drescher said in a statement Monday night.
“After five rounds of bargaining, it has become abundantly clear that the video game companies aren’t willing to meaningfully engage on the critical issues: compensation undercut by inflation, unregulated use of AI and safety. I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that meets members’ needs, but our members are done being exploited, and if these corporations aren’t willing to offer a fair deal, our next stop will be the picket lines,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, said in a statement.
“Between the exploitative uses of AI and lagging wages, those who work in video games are facing many of the same issues as those who work in film and television. This strike authorization makes an emphatic statement that we must reach an agreement that will fairly compensate these talented performers, provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity. Our members’ livelihoods depend on it,” added Ray Rodriguez, SAG-AFTRA’s chief contracts officer, who has overseen negotiations on the video game contract.
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