SAG-AFTRA may soon face another attack.
On Monday, union members voted 98.32 percent to authorize a strike against the video game industry. 34,687 members voted, which corresponds to 27.47 percent of those eligible to vote. While the results do not guarantee that there will be a work stoppage, they do give union negotiators the ability to call a strike if they deem it necessary during ongoing negotiations over a new interactive media agreement.
“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “The result of this vote shows that our members understand the existential nature of these negotiations and that now is the time for these companies – who make billions of dollars and pay their CEOs generously – to give our artists an agreement that continues to allow video performances . “Gaming as a viable career.”
In response to the strike authorization vote, an IMA spokesperson said: “We will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that reflects the important contributions of the artists in video games represented by SAG-AFTRA.” We have over “We have reached tentative agreements on half of the proposals and are optimistic that we can find a solution at the negotiating table.”
The voting period began on September 5 and ended on Monday before negotiations resumed on Tuesday. “We fear that without significant leverage, companies will remain reluctant to reach an acceptable deal,” the union said in a statement Voting website. “The outcome of the IMA negotiations will determine whether our members working in interactive media can continue to earn a professional living doing the work they love.”
Negotiations for the new contract — which includes voice, motion capture and stunt work on video games, as well as other performances — have been ongoing for nearly a year with a group of employers including Activision Productions Inc., Blindlight LLC and Disney Character Voices Inc ., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Epic Games, Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Take 2 Productions Inc., VoiceWorks Productions Inc. and WB Games Inc.
With these talks, the union aims to significantly improve the compensation of its contract artists to counteract the effects of inflation, regulate the use of AI in video game performances and introduce greater security measures for both on-camera and voice actors. “It is not dramatic to say that we are at a crossroads where the sustainability of a video game gaming career is at stake,” Ben Whitehair, executive vice president of SAG-AFTRA, told members in a recent note Informational video.
SAG-AFTRA Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez led negotiations for the union, while Kauff McGuire & Margolis Managing Partner William E. Zuckerman led negotiations for management.
“With the exploitative use of AI and declining wages, those who work in video games face many of the same problems as those who work in film and television,” said Ray Rodriguez. “This strike authorization makes it clear that we must reach an agreement that fairly compensates these talented artists, provides reasonable safety measures and allows them to work with dignity. Our members’ livelihoods depend on this.”