SAG-AFTRA members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against 10 major video game companies. 98.32% votes were recorded in favour. A total of 34,687 members voted, representing 27.47% of eligible voters who voted. The guild’s last strike against gaming companies, in 2016-17, lasted 183 days. The guild, meanwhile, has been on strike since July 14 against the film and television industry.
“It’s time for video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “The outcome of this vote shows that our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and shows that these companies that make billions of dollars and pay their CEOs lavishly — it’s time to give our artists a contract to continue working in video games as a viable career.”
The guild’s board and negotiating committee had already voted unanimously to recommend a ratification referendum, which required 75% approval of voting members to pass. However, today’s vote does not mean there will be a strike, but instead gives the national board the power to call a strike if negotiations fail to produce an acceptable deal.
The guild and companies will resume negotiations on Tuesday, now that strike authorization has been approved, and a strike could come at any time after that.
“After five rounds of negotiations, it has become clear that video game companies are unwilling to engage meaningfully on critical issues: inflation-driven compensation, unregulated AI and safety,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and. Chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “I believe we can reach an agreement that meets the needs of members, but our members are being exploited and if these companies are not willing to offer a fair deal, our next stop will be the picket line.”
It’s been nearly a year since Guild’s video game contract, known as the Interactive Media Contract, was extended beyond its original expiration date. “Unfortunately, throughout the negotiations, the companies failed to address those demands,” the guild said as it prepares for another strike on September 1.
Many issues, including pay for video game contracts and artificial intelligence, are common in the current film and television strike.
“Between the exploitative use of AI and lagging wages, people working in video games face many of the same issues as those working in film and television,” said Chief Contracting Officer Ray Rodriguez. “This strike authorization gives us a firm statement want Reach an agreement that compensates these talented artists fairly, provides common sense safeguards and allows them to work with dignity. Our members’ livelihoods depend on it.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said as the guild faces the prospect of twin strikes on Sept. 1, “Right now our interactive video game contract is at an impasse. Again, we are faced with the greed and disrespect of the boss. Once again artificial intelligence is at risk of undermining the employment opportunities for our members. Again, SAG-AFTRA stands up to tyranny on behalf of its members.
10 companies facing a possible strike:
- Activision Productions Inc.,
- Blindlight LLC,
- Disney Character Voices Inc.,
- Electronic Arts Productions Inc.,
- Epic Games, Inc.,
- Formosa Interactive LLC,
- Insomniac Games Inc.,
- Take 2 Productions Inc.
- VoiceWorks Productions Inc., et al
- WB Games Inc.
Audrey Cooling, a spokeswoman for the video game companies, said, “We all want a fair deal that reflects the important contribution SAG-AFTRA-represented artists make to the industry that provides world-class entertainment to billions of players around the world. We are negotiating in good faith and hope to reach a mutually beneficial agreement soon.
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