Screen Actors Guild Striking Over Video Game Industry

Ted Goodman | Reporter

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union represents actors who perform for video game companies and is voting to strike over residual compensation, vocal stress therapy, stunt coordinators and transparency, according to reports.

The board of directors for the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) voted to strike if a new contract isn’t reached by the time the current contract expires Oct. 21, 2016, reports Deadline.

The union contends that since the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, its actors should be entitled to residual compensation and should share in royalties. The union is also hoping to address certain working conditions for its voice actors and stunt performers, requesting that vocal stress lessons and stunt coordinators be present and available.

The work of actors represented by SAG-AFTRA include voice acting for video game characters, motion-capture actors who record movements that are used to animate characters and their movements), as well as actors who appear in video game trailers and stunt artists for specific scenes within a game.

“The National Board of Directors instructs all SAG-AFTRA members to withhold performing services and auditioning for work under the Interactive Media Agreement with respect to struck games for the following struck employers effective midnight of October 21, 2016,” an official strike notice said.

The union would strike the industry’s leading companies, including Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts, Take 2 Interactive, and WB Games. The video game industry was caught off guard by the media reports, after claiming that the two sides agreed to a “news-blackout” in regards to negotiation discussions.

“Through many months of bargaining with interactive employers, we have not reached a fair agreement covering SAG-AFTRA performers working in video games, often the most popular games in the world,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement Sunday. “A strike is not to be entered into lightly, but when the employers leave us with no recourse, we must stand firm for our members.”

The video game industry responded with a statement from the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, claiming that agreements were negotiated in good faith, and that the parties are making progress toward a new contract. “We are deeply disappointed to learn today of the Union’s threatened strike and its unilateral violation of the mutually agreed upon ‘news black-out’ on negotiation discussions,” attorney Scott J. Witlin said.

SAG-AFTRA only represents performers working with 25 percent of the market, meaning that any potential strike could simply hurt SAG-AFTRA members, and provide competing actors an advantage. The two sides will meet Oct. 17 to Oct. 19 to hash out an agreement and avert a strike, according to Venture Beat.

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