SAG-AFTRA has unanimously voted for a strike against several game companies. Union members are demanding regulations on the use of AI, on-set safety, and retroactive wage increases.
- According to the official announcement, the strike was authorized by 98.32% of the SAG-AFTRA members who participated in the voting. A total of 34,687 people, or 27.47% of eligible voters, cast ballots.
- The authorization doesn’t mean the union is calling for an immediate strike. It all depends on the results of negotiations with game companies, with the next bargaining session scheduled for September 26-28.
- Since October 2022, SAG-AFTRA has been in negotiations with game companies that have signed onto the Interactive Media Agreement (IMA). The list includes Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Epic Games, Activision, isney Character Voices, Insomniac Games, Formosa Interactive, WB Games, and more.
- The union hopes the vote results will compel these companies to make “significant movement on critical issues where we are still far apart” before going on strike.
- “I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that meets members’ needs, but our members are done being exploited, and if these corporations aren’t willing to offer a fair deal, our next stop will be the picket lines,” SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement.
What are the SAG-AFTRA demands?
SAG-AFTRA first sent a strike authorization vote on September 1, saying that game companies had failed to address the union’s needs after nearly a year since extending the IMA. As SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher noted, the negotiations were “at a stalemate.”
Here are the organization’s main demands:
- Regulate the use of AI technology, including in the areas of voice acting and performance capture;
- Set the same wage increases for video game performers as for actors who work under the film and TV contracts: “11% retroactive to expiration and 4% increases in the second and third years of the agreement — necessary for members’ wages to keep up with inflation”;
- On-camera actors should have the same five-minutes-per-hour rest period as off-camera performers;
- A set medic present when performing stunts or other dangerous stuff, plus prohibition of stunts on self-taped auditions.
Speaking about AI regulation, SAG-AFTRA noted that the “union is fighting for protective language in the contract that will require informed consent and appropriate payment for the creation and use of digital replicas and for training AI systems with our members’ performances.”