SAG-AFTRA Seeks Approval for Second Strike Against Video Game Companies

With one strike already underway, SAG-AFTRA announced Friday that it will seek authorization for a second strike against the major video game companies.

The union said that talks on a new video game contract have reached a “stalemate,” and that the strike authorization vote is needed as leverage to win wage increases and protection from artificial intelligence.

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SAG-AFTRA declared a strike on July 13 against the major TV and film companies, shutting down productions around the globe. Talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have not resumed.

The union has a separate contract with the major video game makers, including Activision and Electronic Arts. The contract was originally due to expire last Nov. 7, but was extended for a year to allow for further discussions. The talks are due to resume on Sept. 26.

SAG-AFTRA is asking for an 11% retroactive increase in rates for video game performers, followed by increases of 4% and 4% — identical to its asks from the film and TV studios. The union also wants protections from AI, which it says poses a threat to voice and performance capture artists in the video game field.

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA’s president, Fran Drescher, blasted the video game companies for their “greed and disrespect.”

“Once again artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work,” Drescher said. “And once again, SAG-AFTRA is standing up to tyranny on behalf of its members.”

Audrey Cooling, a spokesperson for the video game companies, said they look forward to reaching an agreement.

“We all want a fair contract that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in an industry that delivers world-class entertainment to billions of players around the world,” she said. “We are negotiating in good faith and hope to reach a mutually beneficial deal as soon as possible.”

SAG-AFTRA went on strike against the video game companies in October 2016. The strike lasted 11 months.

This time around, the union is seeking rest periods and safety protections, in addition to the wage increases and AI provisions. The union wants an on-set medic for video games, similar to current provisions in TV and film, and a prohibition against stunts during self-taped auditions.

Ballots are due at 5 p.m. PT on Sept. 25. The union will also hold informational meetings for affected members during the voting period.

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