AFTRA ratifies video game agreement

66% of voters approve same deal that SAG had rejected

AFTRA's membership ratified its new interactive media agreement with video game employers Thursday. Just two weeks earlier, SAG rejected the same deal, asking the companies to return to the bargaining table.

The new AFTRA contract, which goes into effect Jan. 1, includes a 2.5% increase in minimum session fees beginning April 1. The new deal will expire March 31, 2011.

"AFTRA members who work on video games do so using a highly specialized set of skills and require unique protections from their union agreement," AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon said. "I am pleased that our working members have approved this contract and will have continued access to a share of this multi-billion-dollar industry."

The affected-member referendum was mailed Oct. 29 to more than 2,200 performers (of the union's 70,000 or so total members) who had worked under the AFTRA interactive agreement during the past three years. Voting, which took place online or by telephone, resulted in approval with 66% of the vote.

Video game contracts became part of AFTRA's terrain in the late 1980s. Members had been working under a yearlong extension of the previous 2005-08 interactive media contract when they ratified the new one.

Current wage increases bring the standard fee to $802 for a four-hour session. Additionally, the new deal increases the H&R contribution rate by 0.2% and establishes a cap on H&R contributions of $125,000.

The agreement also establishes a new category of performance called "atmospheric voices" with minimum payments and preserves full union coverage of all performers who render services in interactive games.