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Videogame Companies Make a Deal With SAG, AFTRA

Terms include better pay, protection on “vocally stressful” roles.

The major actors unions have reached tentative contract agreements with videogame producers, delivering better pay and improved protections for actors, the Screen Actors Guild announced Friday.

Upon ratification of the new contracts, SAG members receive a 3 percent wage increase, bringing SAG’s wages to parity with those of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. The deals also contain another 2.5 percent wage increase for both unions on April 1, 2010.

The new agreements, which must be approved by SAG’s national board of directors and the AFTRA administrative committee, bring the unions into unison on the contract expiration date of March 30, 2011.

Both pacts mandate increases in benefit contributions, with SAG’s Pension and Health contribution rate rising 0.5 percent on ratification, with another 0.2 percent increase for both unions on Jan. 1, 2010.

The agreements also establish a cap of $125,000 on contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement and SAG Pension and Health funds. The cap will apply only to performers who are paid more than $125,000 by a single producer in a single year for work done on the same game franchise.

The pacts also establish a $100 liquidated damage payment for employers who fail to give notice of vocally stressful work, and stipulate that guidelines for conducting vocally stressful work should be developed during the term of the contract.

Also, the pacts establish the "atmospheric voices" performance category, which is designed to increase work opportunities for union performers by allowing producers the flexibility to record multiple minor character voices in a single session.