SAG-AFTRA has urged its union members to go on strike after almost two years of negotiations have failed. The union is encouraging its members to strike against some of the biggest publishers in gaming such as Activision, WB Games, Take-Two, and EA.
Some SAG-AFTRA members are also preparing a picket at EA’s Playa Visa California Office on Monday at 10:30 AM PT. A strike is never a good thing for either parties but SAG-AFTRA insists its proposals are “not loaded with any crazy demands.”
As Deadline reports, this is the first ever in the history of video game performers, though only around 25 percent of video games actually use voice actors who are union members.
One of SAG-AFTRA’s demands is that artists receive additional payment for every 500,000 units sold, with a maximum of four extra payments should a game sell over 2 million copies. It has also been claimed that the industry refuses to keep “vocally stressful” recording sessions to a maximum of two hours in order to prevent artists from damaging their vocals.
As GameSpot reports, a statement from SAG-AFTRA reads:
“This group of video game employers knowingly feeds off other industries that pay these same performers fairly to make a living. This represents a ‘freeloader model of compensation’ that we believe cannot and should not continue.”
“In this industry, which frequently uses performers and understands the intermittent and unpredictable nature of this type of work, fair compensation includes secondary payments when games hit a certain level of success with consumers, not simply higher upfront wages. Secondary compensation is what allows professional performers to feed their families in between jobs.”
“No matter what these companies are peddling in their press releases, this negotiation is not only about upfront compensation. It is about fairness and the ability of middle-class performers to survive in this industry. These companies are immensely profitable, and successful games–which are the only games this dispute is about–drive that profit.
“We have proposed a fair payment structure that enables the sustainability of a professional performer community. These employers have unreasonably refused that. The time has come to end the freeloader model of compensation and that is why our members are united behind this cause.”
Video game publishers have claimed to have offered a 9 percent increase in wages as well as further payments of up to $950 for voice acting sessions. As a whole this could lead to a 23 percent pay rise for artists.
The majority of video games currently in production will not be affected by the strike, but we could see the effect of this action over the next few years. Here’s hoping both parties manage to reach an agreement.