Members of The Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have authorized their board the ability to go on strike against the gaming industry.
After a period of voting between September 16th to October 5th, the overwhelming majority of SAG-AFTRA members have voted yes to a strike, with a whopping 96.5% of the vote in favor. SAG-AFTRA needed a minimum of 75% to make this authorization.
The SAG-AFTRA union has been in negotiations with the gaming industry since January, with a list of demands for voice actors who are currently employed in the gaming industry. These Interactive Negotiations, as they are called, have met twice with video game publishers to discuss new contract deals and demands. These demands include residual pay (if a video game reaches sales of $2 million, with options for more pay if it reaches other milestones), concerns over vocal stress, and the demand for more transparency between roles. All of these demands by SAG-AFTRA have been made public for some time.
Publishers within the gaming industry have also made several proposals to SAG-AFTRA back in February, which included the ability to sign non-union voice actors as background and "atmospheric voices," a revision of several rules found in the original contract and a set of new rules that SAG-AFTRA union actors would generally follow, or be fined for, such as refusing to attend certain auditions for atmospheric voices or one-hour voice sessions.
SAG-AFTRA has charged the publishers proposals as being unfair; for example, a $2,500 fine can be posed on a voice actor if their employer believes they are not "attentive to the services for which [you] have been engaged.” which SAG-AFTRA argues is unfair. SAG-AFTRA has also argued for the use of stunt coordinators for performance-capture projects in video games, an area gaming publishers believe is not covered under the current contract negotiations.
The two sides have met twice thus far, in February and June, but no progress was made in the negotiations.
For the past month, a twitter hashtag campaign has gone out to raise awareness for the vote, with many high-profile voice actors getting involved in the campaign, such as Tara Strong, Steven Blum, and David Hayter. Other famous voice actors such as Elias Toufexis, Jennifer Hale and D.C Douglas have also sided with the yes vote.
The vote does not mean a strike will occur, it does, however, mean that SAG-AFTRA can now strike with the full backing of their their national board. SAG-AFTRA has stated that they shall reach out to publishers in an attempt to return to negotiations.
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