SAG-AFTRA, the union of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has announced its intention to authorise a strike against major game publishers.
Since July, members of the American union have shown their dissatisfaction over the absence of an agreement between the group and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Issues like the effect of streaming on residuals paid to cast and crew and the continued use of artificial intelligence to replicate actors’ likenesses are also points of contention.
On September 1, SAG-AFTRA announced that it has sent a strike authorisation vote to members regarding the renegotiation of its Interactive Media Agreement. The union said that companies have “failed” to react adequately to the “critical terms SAG-AFTRA members need”, though discussions will resume on September 26.
The named companies in the announcement are 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.
“Once again we are facing employer greed and disrespect. Once again artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work. And once again, SAG-AFTRA is standing up to tyranny on behalf of its members,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher.
“In addition to AI protections, SAG-AFTRA is seeking the same wage increases for video game performers as for those who work under the film and television contracts: 11 per cent retroactive to expiration and 4 per cent increases in the second and third years of the agreement – necessary for members’ wages to keep up with inflation,” said the union.
Additionally, on-camera performers must be entitled to a five-minutes-per-hour rest period that off-camera performers presently benefit from. As well as this, SAG-AFTRA emphasised the need for a set medic present when stunts or hazardous work is performed.
Stunts on self-taped auditions should be banned and suitable vocal stress protections should be introduced to the video game industry.
As a clarification, the strike authorisation does not mean that there will be a strike. It is instead an option for SAG-AFTRA to use depending on how these discussions at the end of the month play out.