SAG-AFTRA has voted for a strike against video game companies.
The union, which represents Hollywood actors, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that 98.32 percent of its members have voted in favor of authorizing the strike.
According to the union, 34,687 members cast ballots, representing a voting percentage of 27.47% of eligible voters. The union only needed 75 percent support for it to pass.
SAG-AFTRA said that it 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 union said. “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.”
The union explained that the authorization does not mean that it is immediately calling for a strike.
“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.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that 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.”
“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,” Crabtree-Ireland added.
Now that the authorization passed, the National Board can call a strike anytime after September 26, 2023.
“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.”
SAG-AFTRA has been on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for two months.