SAG-AFTRA voice actors' are now on strike against a coalition of Interactive Video Game Companies that includes Activision Publishing, Electronic Arts, WB Games and Disney Character Voices.
Insomniac Games, VoiceWorks Productions, BlindLight and Interactive Associates are also targets of the strike, which started today at 12.01 PT. The union's members will refuse to work on any game that went into production after February 17, 2015. The picket line will start on Monday October 24, outside EA's offices in Playa Vista, California.
"During a strike, it is critical that all members demonstrate solidarity so that we can present a united front to management," SAG-AFTRA said on its website. "If you work for one of the affected productions, it's your responsibility to honor the strike, but even if you're not, your support is needed."
"If you work for one of the affected productions, it's your responsibility to honor the strike, but even if you're not, your support is needed"
The fact that SAG-AFTRA is reaching out beyond its own membership is interesting. Earlier this week, the legal firm representing the coalition of Interactive Video Game Companies claimed that the union doesn't have enough influence for a strike to be effective, its members working on less than 25% of games released. Scott Witlin of Barnes & Thornburg described a "minimal impact on current and near-future game releases," while also stating that, "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."
In a second statement released yesterday, before SAG-AFTRA officially confirmed the strike, Witlin once again discouraged the union from, "precipitously [rushing] into a strike that will immediately and directly take money out of their members' pockets." The two parties met this week to attempt to find a mutually satisfying resolution, but despite "largely" reaching an agreement on issues including vocal stress, stunt coordination and transparency - three of the four major issues cited by SAG-AFTRA - the negotiations stalled on wages.
According to Witlin, the Interactive Video Game Companies made a "final offer" that included an immediate 9% wage increase, which it expected to be ratified by SAG-AFTRA's membership before December 1 this year. The, "Comprehensive Revised and Enhanced Final Package Proposal would bring the typical 4-hour voiceover session and on-camera day rate to $900, as well as providing the Additional Compensation of up to $950 per game depending upon the number of sessions worked... Together with the wage hike, this package could increase overall compensation by up to 23 percent for typical sessions, and in some cases more."
Witlin has claimed that SAG-AFTRA's leadership did not provide a counter-offer, and "refused" to put the Package Proposal forward for a vote among its members. One of the union's key demands in terms of wages were residual or back-end payments based on the number of units sold or number of subscribers. Instead, the Interactive Video Game Companies' offer appears to be based on absolute numbers.