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Voice Actors On Strike, Talks With Video Game Companies Fall Apart

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Ted Goodman Reporter

Voice actors and performers initiated a strike Friday night, after a contract deadline passed and talks with video game companies fell apart.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union, which represents actors who perform for video game companies, is striking over residual compensation, demands for vocal stress therapy, stunt coordinators and transparency.

The board of directors for SAG, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), voted to strike if a new contract wasn’t reached by Oct. 21.

The strike comes after a year and a half of unsuccessful negotiations and the expiration of its existing labor contract in late 2014.

The union contends that since the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, its actors should be entitled to residual compensation and royalties. SAG-AFTRA is also pushing for improved working conditions for its voice actors and stunt performers, requesting vocal stress teachers and stunt coordinators be present and available.

SAG-AFTRA represents voice actors 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 is striking against some of the industry’s leading companies, including Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts, Take 2 Interactive, and WB Games.

“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 argued in a statement. “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, at the time, with a statement from the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, claiming that agreements were negotiated in good faith.

The video game industry was frustrated with the union’s public airings of private negotiations. “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,” a lawyer representing the industry previously said.

SAG-AFTRA only represents 25 percent of the performers in the market, meaning that any potential strike could simply hurt members, and provide competing actors an advantage.

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