The SAG-AFTRA strikes that have paralyzed Hollywood and film and television production around the world are not finished yet: SAG-AFTRA members have voted 98.32% in favor of a strike authorization on the Interactive Media Agreement that covers members’ work on video games. 34,687 members cast ballots, representing a voting percentage of 27.47% of eligible voters.
The strike authorization does not mean the union is calling a strike. SAG-AFTRA has been in Interactive Media Agreement negotiations with signatory video game companies (Activision Productions Inc, Blindlight LLC, Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Epic Games, Take 2 Productions Inc., VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and WB Games Inc.) since October 2022. Throughout the negotiations, the companies have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Sept. 26, 27 and 28, and we hope the added leverage of a successful strike authorization vote will compel the companies to make significant movement on critical issues where we are still far apart.
“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies — which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly — to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career.”
“After five rounds of bargaining, it has become abundantly clear that the video game companies aren’t willing to meaningfully engage on the critical issues: compensation undercut by inflation, unregulated use of AI and safety,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that meets members’ needs, but 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.”
“Between the exploitative uses of AI and lagging wages, those who work in video games are facing many of the same issues as those who work in film and television,” said Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez. “This strike authorization makes an emphatic statement that we must reach an agreement that will fairly compensate these talented performers, provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity. Our members’ livelihoods depend on it.”
The strike authorization vote was initiated on the unanimous recommendation of the SAG-AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement Negotiating Committee and National Board. Voting information was sent to eligible members on Sept. 5, and the final deadline to vote was today at 5 p.m. PT.
Though it appears inevitable at this point, not all video game development would be affected by such a strike. Still, the signator companies represent a huge swath of current production.
Find out more at sagaftra.org/videogames2023.
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