SAG-AFTRA currently holds over 160k members that represent a large amount of voice actors in the video game industry. They have been in talks with several video game companies to renegotiate their contract and gain some leverage in the industry, but those talks have flat lined recently. The union notes that 3 of the recent meetings have turned up nothing for them.
Now they have one final meeting coming this week before a scheduled strike begins to take place on friday. The meeting is set to begin today and last until October 19th, but the union has noted they don’t expect any changes, so a strike is already set for Friday.
The strike will include voice actors walking out of projects that started after Feb. 17 2015, and targeted companies include Activision, Insomniac Games, Disney, EA, WB Games, and Take Two among others.
The Unions page also encourages all members to talk with other voice actors to tell them to particpate or support the strike, even if they are not included in the union. Currently more than 96 percent of the union supports the strike.
Members of the group defending the targeted publishers are obviously not fans of the decision, and note the union has broken a mutually agreed upon contract that prevented public demonstrations of the on-going discussions. They also note that the strike would “deny all members the ability to particpate in new projects.” Thus giving jobs to other actors in the industry.
“Any strike would not only deny SAG-AFTRA’s membership work, but this would also give their competitors, who do not engage union talent, a leg up while any strike would be in place.”
There are many issues the union wants to fix, but the major ones include compensation and work hours. The unions wants all members to have a compensation for their work based on a percantage of profits the games make, similar to how motion pictures offer payouts. The union also wants working hours to be limited to 2 hour segments to “protect the voices of the performers.”
A final big game breaker seems to be that the union actors want to know the name of a game before working on it.
From our perspective we can easily see why these discussions broke down. A compensation in that matter would mean a follow up by other areas of development. Programmers, animators, and everyone else would want something similar since they do a lot of work too. Also simply “knowing the title” would be a problem in an industry that remains tight lipped on projects that take years to create. We know some changes need to be made, but perhaps there is a middle ground to be found.