Videogame Producers Slam SAG-AFTRA Strike Threat

Dave McNary
Variety

Videogame producers have slammed SAG-AFTRA over the union’s threat to go on strike this Friday if negotiations do not yield a new deal for voice actors.

“We have negotiated in good faith for the past 18 months with SAG-AFTRA union leaders, and are making progress toward a new contract,” said the interactive media video game companies in a statement Monday.

“We are deeply disappointed to learn today of the Union’s threatened strike and its unilateral violation of the mutually agreed upon ‘news black-out’ on negotiation discussions. We consider the Union’s threatened labor action to call a strike precipitous, unnecessary, and an action that will only harm their membership. SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25% of the video games on the market.”

SAG-AFTRA’s national board announced the plans to strike following its national board meeting Sunday. The leaders of the performers expressed frustration over the fact that negotiations have generated little progress.

Companies that will be struck include Activision Publishing; Blindlight; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices; Electronic Arts Productions; Formosa Interactive; Insomniac Games; Interactive Associates; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions; and WB Games. In response, the companies warned that a strike would deny work to SAG-AFTRA’s membership and give an advantage to competitors who have not signed an agreement to employ union actors.

“The Video Game Companies had already scheduled bargaining sessions this week with SAG-AFTRA union leaders to attempt to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” the companies said. “We expect these negotiations to remain in place, and will continue to attempt to reach a fair and equitable contract despite the Union leadership’s most recent threatened labor action.”

The companies also touted the benefits of the current master contract, which expired at the end of 2014 and has been extended for actors.

“The existing contract between Video Game Companies and SAG-AFTRA pays all performers more than $100 an hour plus benefits and most performers many times that,” they said.

“The Companies’ current proposals on the negotiation table includes wage increases for most performers and additional avenues for compensation that could yield many hundreds of dollars more in payments for limited integration and ratification bonuses,” they added. “Although the Companies have had only one report of workplace injury due to vocal stress, the Companies have continued to look to ways to reduce the burdens on performers in this area through the more flexible work scheduling and other innovative work arrangements.”

They also said that a strike would not affect games already in production due to the nature of the “no strike provisions” of the collective bargaining agreement, adding, “We anticipate minimal impact on current and near-future game releases.”

In response to the companies, a SAG-AFTRA rep said Monday, “We are surprised to hear that the video game companies with whom we have been negotiating for nearly two years now assert that progress is being made on the major concerns we are focused on in this negotiation.  We look forward to hearing their thoughts on the crucial issues of performer safety and fair compensation that we have put forward.”

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