by Gunner Masters
Voice actors with the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union are on strike against many large game development companies because of stalled negotiations.
The union’s strike focuses against Electronic Arts, Activision Publishing, Warner Bros. Games and Disney. Character Voices also targeted are Insomniac Games, VoiceWorks Productions, BlindLight and Interactive Associates.
SAG-AFTRA declared on their website that the strike began at 12:01 p.m. PT with the actors refusing to work on any game that began production after February 17, 2015. A picket line will form at 10:30 a.m. Monday October 24, outside of EA’s offices in Playa Vista, California.
“SAG-AFTRA has gone to the negotiations table with serious concerns affecting our voiceover and stunt performers,” said SAG-AFTRA Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez in an official PDF. “It’s time for video game employers to take our concerns seriously and negotiate a modern contract based on actor safety, industry precedent and best practices.”
The strike was caused by growing tension between the union and game developer’s inability to come to an agreement after more than 19 months on a contract that would give actors more compensation, information about projects and safety.
On October 18, Barnes & Thornburg, the legal firm representing the game companies accused SAG-AFTRA of violating a “mutually agreed upon” news black-out and proclaimed the strike would only hurt the union’s membership.
Scott J. Witlin, a representative of Barnes & Thornburg, published a statement in response to SAG-AFTRA’s then proposed strike saying, “We have negotiated in good faith for the past 18 months with SAG-AFTRA union leaders, and are making progress toward a new contract.” He also wrote that the strike would be harmful to the union’s members because they provide their services to “less than 25%” of games and a strike would deny them work.