Yesterday, the SAG-AFTRA union members unanimously voted in favor of a strike authorization against 10 major video game companies. Of the approximately 160,000 media professionals worldwide, 34,687 members cast their votes calling for a new Interactive Media Agreement, if necessary. The voting periods began earlier this month on the 5th of September and concluded yesterday.
Previous negotiations began back in October last year and yielded no conclusive agreements between the union members and the major gaming companies. The decision does not mean an immediate work stoppage or a strike, as there will be bargaining sessions starting today.
SAG-AFTRA To Restart Negotiations With These Companies From Today
SAG-AFTRA union members have been in Interactive Media Agreement negotiations with Activision, Blindlight, Disney, EA, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions, VoiceWorks Productions, and WB Games since October last year. They will restart new negotiating sessions starting today.
With the added leverage of the strike authorization, SAG-AFTRA union members will be hoping for a positive outcome this time around. Starting today, the negotiations will continue tomorrow and the day after, September 28th. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher spoke about the unanimous decision for a strike, by stating that it’s high time these gaming companies hand an agreement to performers that “keeps performing in video games as a viable career”.
Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez also chimed in with his thoughts by stating that talented performers in the gaming industry want the video game corporations to “fairly compensate” them, and also “provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity”.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland mentioned that he remains hopeful that an agreement that meets members’ needs will be achieved over the next two days. Crabtree-Ireland also mentioned that “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”.
The Major Issues Mentioned In The Negotiations
The agreement in principle intends to protect the performing artists by having their voices and likenesses protected in the gaming industry. The highlighted issues include the following:
These issues include Artificial Intelligence protections around control, transparency, consent, and performer compensation, along with a wage increase that matches inflation, and finally, the safety of on-camera performers.
SAG-AFTRA believes performing artists are constantly underpaid and get their likenesses exploited without formal consent and the increased training of AI has put many artists without a clear picture of their career. The union members will continue to press the video game corporations until the 28th of September before a strike begins.
This follows the news that The Writers Guild of America recently came a tentative agreement with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to resolve the Hollywood writer’s strike which lasted 146 days.
There is no indication of any of the planned games to be affected immediately once the strike begins, if at all. Do you justify the reasons behind SAG-AFTRA’s call for a strike on the gaming industry? Make sure to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.