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SAG-AFTRA authorizes strike for video game members

The move comes ahead of renewed bargaining talks later in September

Update (Sep. 26, 2023): Members of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors and voice actors in the United States, have voted to authorize union members working on video games to strike. 98.32% of the cast ballots voted for this authorization. Overall, 32,687 members or 27.47% of eligible voters took part in this process, the union stated.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that a strike is now inevitable and production on any project with members under a union contract is halted – but the strike authorization has handed SAG-AFTRA a strong tool in its negotiations with video game companies.

Original (Sep. 2, 2023): SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, has authorized members in the video game industry to strike, should upcoming negotiations for AI protections and safety regulations in a new Interactive Media Agreement fail. The union made the announcement on its website and said its leadership chose to grant authorization after signatory companies failed to meet the Interactive Media Agreement’s previous terms.

An authorization to strike doesn’t guarantee a strike. It just means that SAG-AFTRA members in the Interactive Media field, the union’s designation for the video games industry, have permission to call a strike should their bargaining prove fruitless.

“Now our Interactive (Video Game) Agreement is at a stalemate too,” Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president, said in a statement. “The overlap of these two SAG-AFTRA contracts is no coincidence, but rather a predictable issue impacting our industry as well as others all over the world. The disease of greed is spreading like wildfire ready to burn workers out of their livelihoods and humans out of their usefulness.”

A hand is shown gripping a video game controller in a yellow circle, with the words Interactive Media (Video game) Strike Authorization 2023 to the left

SAG-AFTRA members have authorized union members working on video games to strike as well.

The companies included are:

  • Activision Productions Inc.
  • Blindlight LLC
  • Disney Character Voices Inc.
  • Electronic Arts Productions Inc.
  • Epic Games, Inc.
  • Formosa Interactive LLC
  • Insomniac Games Inc.
  • Take 2 Productions Inc.
  • VoiceWorks Productions Inc.
  • WB Games Inc.

“The voice and performance capture artists who bring video game characters to life deserve a contract that reflects the value they bring to the multibillion-dollar gaming industry,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, said. “Voice and performance capture AI are already among the most advanced uses of AI: the threat is here and it is real. Without contractual protections, the employers are asking performers to unknowingly participate in the extinction of their artistry and livelihoods.”

While the unregulated use of AI in the games industry is a key focal point in the upcoming negotiations, SAG-AFTRA said that bargaining will also include pushes for basic protections on par with those that cover workers in TV and film. These include five-minute breaks every hour for on-camera talent, on-site medics in case of emergencies or injuries, and vocal strain protections.

The union will also request wage increases commensurate with inflation – 11 percent retroactive until the agreement expires and four percent in the second and third years of the agreement.

Negotiations are set to resume on Sep. 26, 2023.

You can visit Men's Journal Streaming for more news on the SAG-AFTRA strike as well as the WGA strikes.