The SAG-AFTRA strike is still going on, and things have gotten pretty serious on both sides. The video game companies have accused the union of cheating its members, and the union has already taken to the streets and accused the video game companies of refusing to bend. It is a mess, and it has the chance of causing deep repercussions throughout the entire industry, not just for voice actors.
At the end of the negotiations last week, video game companies offered a 9% wage increase and substantial up front bonus for SAG-AFTRA members, as seen here in this press release. According to them they were very reasonable and the union representatives just refused to hear of it. Of course, this all centers around one very important topic, the backend wages.
SAG-AFTRA turned down the offer of an increase of money over payments based on how well a video game does. They only want small compensation for every 2 million games sold up to 8 million. This would come out to very often being much less than what the video game companies offered, so why wouldn’t they accept the deal? According to Phil Lamarr, part of the negotiating committee, the most important point of the strike is the desire for, “Sharing in the success of what we help create.” I’m sure a lot of people who work in the video game industry can relate to such a statement.
— (((Phil LaMarr))) (@phillamarr) October 24, 2016
On Monday the first in person strike was held. People gathered together and picketed outside of the Electronic Arts Building. There were talks and speakers explaining why they were there and the threats actors face on the job. They all came together and showed their support for what the union had decided. The biggest point again is back-end payments on games. These residual payments aren’t a new thing either. In pretty much every other medium they are expected and when something is successful actors get a bonus based on that success.
During the SAG-AFTRA press conference Friday, Keythe Farley, voice actor and the chair of SAG-AFTRA’s Interactive Committee, said, “While they came a ways, they were not willing to accept even the win-win proposal that we put on the table, the either/or response. You can pay it upfront, you can pay it on the back-end, at your discretion. Can we go forward? And the answer was ‘Absolutely not. We have never given secondary payments, we will never give secondary payments on this contract, and we will never give them in the future.”
So, it boiled down to a few differences during last week’s negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the video game companies. The biggest difference was on back-end payments. Why would this be such a sticking point? Well, I, like many others, believe it has to do with game developers, designers, artists, and more. If voice actors get a share of profitable games, then why shouldn’t other people who work just as hard in the industry? I believe that is the can of worms these companies refuse to open, and that’s why they offered more money to remove that one part completely. However, that’s just my two cents. What are your thoughts? If this strike succeeds will game developers form a union? What does this mean for the rest of the game industry? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Written by Spencer Havens