On October 2016, 11 game companies had strikes against them from the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Then on September 25 of this year, SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement on payment options, the number of sessions worked on and project details.
Where the SAG-AFTRA Agreement Started
On Oct. 21, 2016, SAG-AFTRA went on strike against 11 different video game employers after Feb. 17, 2015. These companies are:
- Activision Publishing Inc.
- Blindlight LLC
- Corps of Discovery Films
- Disney Character Voices Inc.
- Electronic Arts Productions Inc.
- Formosa Interactive LLC
- Insomniac Games Inc.
- Interactive Associates Inc.
- Take 2 Interactive Software
- VoiceWorks Productions Inc.
- WB Games Inc.
So out of the reasons listed in the strike notice, transparency about the work and the compensation received by the voice actors are most prevalent.
First off, to be clear, the strike did not bar voice actors from all works by those companies. However, it wouldn’t restrict television programs, theatrical films, audiobooks and others listed in the original strike notice.
As with any unionized conglomerate, it’s important to have established rules about key elements to a contract like pay structure, contract length, project transparency and reprisal roles. Prior to this tentative agreement, none of these elements were clear. As a consequence, this led to assumptions about poor company practices.
But this strike prompted discussions about vocal chord stress, which caused actors to turn away roles. However, that’s not the only issue because voice actors were not always certain about their projects.
Regardless, companies expected exceptional performances. Without proper support, this expectation doesn’t lend itself to a proper job nor shows the integrity of a company.
The Tentative Agreement Details
As of now, SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement on September 25 as stated in a press release. This agreement includes a new bonus pay structure, transparency rules and commitment to the safety of actors regarding vocal stress.
In addition, the new pay structure begins at $75 for each session. Therefore, companies need to disclose the name of its project, genre, if it is part of a previous intellectual property and if the role is a reprisal. Finally, voice actors will know about unusual terminology, profanity, racial slurs, sexual/violent content and stunt work.
SAG-AFTRA Moving Forward
In the end, the contract aims to give unionized workers fair compensation and safe work conditions for all members. With this tentative proposed agreement, SAG-AFTRA will vote in October at their meeting, hopefully ending the strike. That said, only time will tell whether the new terms will be acceptable to the union.
Furthermore, forcing the game companies to be more fair and transparent with their voice actors illustrates that the profession needs more seriously.
Stay tuned for more information about this topic in the future. Don’t forget to hop into Discord for more gaming discussions.
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