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“Here we go again!” wrote union president Fran Drescher.
The major labor union representing performers and broadcasters may branch out its historic strike for better working conditions to include the performers who bring video games to life. On Friday, more than a month after its current strike began, the SAG-AFTRA union’s national board announced that it was seeking a strike vote against major video game companies like Activision and Disney Character Voices International. After more than a year, according to the union, its negotiations for better pay and protections against artificial intelligence in gaming have reached an impasse. While video game performers are part of SAG-AFTRA, their contracts are separate from the theatrical, TV, and streaming contracts that other members are currently striking over.
“Once again we are facing employer greed and disrespect,” wrote SAG-AFTRA’s president, Fran Drescher. “Once again artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy…And once again, SAG-AFTRA is standing up to tyranny on behalf of its members.”
Does this mean that SAG-AFTRA is going to strike against video game companies? Not yet.
Ultimately, the union wants an authorization ready to go so that it can readily go on strike if further negotiations fall through. Plus, according to CNN, the threat of a strike is a helluva bargaining chip. The last time, the Screen Actors Guild and the gaming industry went toe to toe was in October 2016, resulting in a strike that lasted 183 days. The two sides came to an agreement nearly a year later in September 2017.
Some of the union’s demands for both voice and on-screen video game performers:
“We all want a fair contract that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA–represented performers in an industry that delivers world-class entertainment to billions,” wrote Drescher. “We are negotiating in good faith and hope to reach a mutually beneficial deal as soon as possible.” SAG-AFTRA members will vote through September 25.