SAG-AFTRA Grants Approval for Video Game Actors Strike

Contingent on negotiations between the union and ten video game companies

The labor union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) have shown strong support for the possibility of a video game actors strike against ten video game companies, with an impressive 98.32% of members voting in favor of granting strike authorization. It’s important to clarify that this vote doesn’t automatically trigger a strike but empowers the union’s national board to initiate a strike if ongoing negotiations fail to produce satisfactory results.

The process of obtaining strike authorization began on September 5th. Negotiations between the union and the ten video game companies, which revolve around the Interactive Media Agreement (the union’s specific contract for video games), are set to resume on Tuesday. The companies involved include 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., and WB Games Inc. Should these negotiations not lead to a mutually acceptable agreement, the SAG-AFTRA board can declare a strike at its discretion.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the Chief Negotiator of SAG-AFTRA, emphasized that the union has engaged in five previous rounds of negotiations with these companies without success. The union’s demands include:

  • Improved working conditions.
  • An 11% increase in compensation for video game performers.
  • Measures to safeguard against the potential impact of artificial intelligence on the future of artists’ careers and work.

Notably, SAG-AFTRA’s prior strike against significant gaming companies, which lasted an extensive 183 days, took place in 2016. The current strike that the union is involved in pertains to film and scripted television productions, commencing on July 14th and causing significant disruptions in the global entertainment industry.

SAG-AFTRA represents a substantial membership of over 160,000 performers, including voice actors. It plays a vital role in negotiating contracts with studios to ensure equitable pay, appropriate working conditions, contributions towards health insurance and pensions, and preferential casting for its members. In addition, the union issued a “Do Not Work” advisory regarding the English dub of “Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai” (listed as “Dragon Quest: Legend of Dai”) in April 2022. This underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the under-representation of union dubs in the North American anime dubbing sector, particularly in the context of the Crunchyroll-Funimation merger.

Simultaneously, the Writers Guild of America initiated a separate strike on May 2nd, with writers demanding improved compensation, working conditions, and limitations on using artificial intelligence within the industry. It’s worth noting that the WGA recently reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers).

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