"This is a war on the middle class"

Prominent VO artist Jennifer Hale says SAG-AFTRA strike is against "giant corporations" rather than "new and smaller developers"

The prominent voice actor Jennifer Hale has emphasised that SAG-AFTRA's strike is targeted at the biggest companies and largest productions, describing the industry's standoff over improved pay and working conditions as, "a war on the middle class."

SAG-AFTRA confirmed the strike last Friday, and a picket line is due to form outside EA's Playa Vista offices today. Over the weekend, Hale, who has Mass Effect and Bioshock among many credits, spoke to NPR about SAG-AFTRA's motives and, more importantly, its targets.

"We're only striking against somewhere around a half a dozen companies," she said. "We've worked very hard to craft an interim agreement that any developer can sign on. It has very friendly terms. It actually has friendlier terms than the existing contract to new and smaller game makers." Hale said that SAG-AFTRA's members are "kind of excited" about those parts of the contract that apply to "new and smaller" developers, "because it allows us to go out and court a whole bunch of new business. These half a dozen giant corporations will have to do what they have to do."

"It's not about a lack of respect for these people... The problem we have is that their position doesn't fit in with this industry"

Scott Witlin

The improved terms that SAG-AFTRA seeks is for the games that can, "go on to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and more." For these, voice actors receive a rate of $825 for a four-hour session, with only a "tiny fraction" - Hale included - who, "have the privilege of negotiating for a little more."

Crispin Freeman, who was a part of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee, told NPR that the demand for residual payments would only be triggered by, "a very small number of games" - specifically those that sell more than 2 million units. "This is an important aspect of what it means to be a freelance performer, who has to go from job-to-job - who isn't regularly employed every single day working on projects," Freeman said.

The legal firm representing those companies has made the point that any strike would prove harmful to SAG-AFTRA's members, opening the door for non-union talent to take their work. The voice actor Jay Britton called out one example to this problem on Twitter: