Yesterday (Monday, September 25), the American labor union, The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike on the Interactive Media Agreement which covers its members’ work on games.
As The Hollywood Reporter writes, a total of 34,687 members cast ballots, which, according to a statement released on the SAG-AFTRA website, represented a voting percentage of 27.47% of eligible voters. Members voted 98.32% in favor of authorizing the strike (they required at least 75% in order for the strike authorization to pass).
Despite this result, there’s no guarantee that a strike will go ahead – the resolution simply gives the union’s National Board the option to declare one if the negotiating committee is unable to work out an agreement that they’re happy with during upcoming contract negotiations. Issues that are being discussed include wages, vocal-stress protection for voice actors, safety for on-camera performers, and protections surrounding AI when it comes to transparency, consent, control, and compensation.
“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA said. “The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies – which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly – to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career.”
According to SAG-AFTRA, the companies that it’s negotiating with include Activision Productions, Epic Games, Electronic Arts Productions, WB Games Inc., and others. These negotiations have been going on since October 2022.
SAG-AFTRA stated: “Throughout the negotiations, the companies have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.”
The labor union says that the negotiating committee and National Board “will do everything they can to reach an agreement without a strike”.