SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike Ends

Natalie Jarvey

The 11-month strike resulted in bonuses and other gains for performers.

The SAG-AFTRA video game strike, the longest in the union’s history, has ended, the union announced Monday. The deal between the union and 11 video game companies including Activision, Electronic Arts, and Disney and Warner Bros. units was reached early Saturday morning, 11 months after its Oct. 21, 2016, commencement.

The agreement, which will next be reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board at its October meeting, includes a new bonus structure based on the number of sessions worked on each game, beginning with a $75 payment on the first session and totaling $2,100 after 10 sessions worked. 

“This is an important advance in this critical industry space. We secured a number of gains including for the first time, a secondary payment structure which was one of the members' key concerns,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. "The courage of our members and their fortitude these many months has been admirable and I salute them. We are always stronger together.”

Said Keythe Farley, chair of the union’s interactive negotiating committee: “The bonus payments we have now are significantly larger now than what we had 11 months ago. And the existence of additional payments beyond your session fee is in the video game world for good, both in our high-budget and independent promulgated agreements. Those are the victories that this strike has brought us.”

Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez, who was the lead negotiator on the new contract, said: “The new transparency provisions will enhance the bargaining power of our members’ representatives by requiring the companies to disclose the code name of [the] project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property and whether the performer is reprising a prior role.”

He added, “Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required.”

The companies’ chief negotiator did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the union, the deal also contains an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress during the term of the agreement. The union added that the agreement omits several proposals sought by management, including a provision that would have fined performers for being late or distracted at session, another that would have required agents to submit performers for low-paying “atmospheric voice” sessions or face fines and a possible revocation of their union franchise, and another that would have allowed employers to use their permanent staff to do covered work outside of the collective bargaining agreement. 

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