We were glad to hear that The Writers Guild of America finally made headway in achieving a fair deal with the AMPTP. The studios’ refusal to grant writers the protections and compensations they deserve continued to extend the strike, but recently a tentative agreement was reached. Of course, the SAG-AFTRA strike has not yet reached such a point, so union negotiations continue in Hollywood. And now, another strike could be on the table. On September 25, SAG-AFTRA’s members voted to authorize a video game strike. In fact, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of a video game strike. 98.32% of those who voted, over 34,000 people, agreed to strike authorization.
Are SAG-AFTRA’s Members Now on a Video Game Strike?
Despite this majority vote, SAG-AFTRA’s members are not officially on strike against video game work. Instead, this authorization allows them to go on strike should negotiations fail. In total, “34,687 members cast ballots, representing a voting percentage of 27.47% of eligible voters.”
What Does the Video Game Strike Authorization Mean?
A release from SAG-AFTRA shares more details about the current situation between SAG-AFTRA members and the video game industry. It notes:
The strike authorization does not mean the union is calling a strike. SAG-AFTRA has been in Interactive Media Agreement negotiations with signatory video game companies (Activision Productions Inc, Blindlight LLC, Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Epic Games, Take 2 Productions Inc., VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and WB Games Inc.) since October 2022. Throughout the negotiations, the companies have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland also shares, “After five rounds of bargaining, it has become abundantly clear that the video game companies aren’t willing to meaningfully engage on the critical issues: compensation undercut by inflation, unregulated use of AI and safety… 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.”
What’s Next for This Strike?
The next negotiations with the major video game companies were slated for September 26, 27, and 28. However, they did not achieve any resolution. A release from SAG-AFTRA and Video Game Employers Statement on Interactive Media Agreement, notes:
SAG-AFTRA and video game employers concluded scheduled negotiations for the Interactive Media Agreement. No deal was reached and the current agreement will remain in effect while the parties make final efforts to reach a deal.
The hope is the authorization of the video game strike will help negotiations to proceed more favorably. However, “if employers fail to protect and uphold the basic working conditions of [SAG-AFTRA] members, then “strike authorization vote permits the National Board to declare a strike.” There is no word yet on a date a strike might be declared if companies cannot work toward their employees. However, it sounds as though both parties are reaching “final efforts.”
As with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes against the AMPTP, this potential strike is borne from the needs of hardworking people to survive and live. Hopefully, the video game companies can prevent the strike by respecting those that help them to thrive. You can read more about how to help striking workers here. Additionally, more information about the video game strike will become available here.
Originally published on September 26, 2023.